USG may grant athletes priority for registration

By Caitlin Conley | Section: Jan 22nd, 2010 Issues, January 22nd Print Edition, News

Tulane student athletes are currently working with university administrators to give athletes some form of priority class registration.

Tulane’s 270 student athletes currently register for classes with the rest of the student body, which can create scheduling conflicts, especially for freshmen.

“Lots of student athletes don’t come in with Advanced Placement credit, which means that some of the freshman end up registering at 3 p.m. on the very last day of registration,” said Susan Vollmerhausen, assistant director for student athletes. “It can be a real nightmare.”

Vollmerhausen and members of the student athletic advisory committee, Tulane’s student athlete governing board, have spoken with academic advising, the dean’s office and the Undergraduate Student Government about the proposed changes.

When USG first saw the proposal, it was met with considerable resentment.

“At first, not a lot of people liked the idea. They kept asking why student athletes deserved to get special treatment,” said Evan Nicoll, student athlete liaison to USG. “But we explained that it’s not a privilege; it’s more that we need this because things are impossible right now.”

Nicoll, a member of the men’s track and field team, said that regular student scheduling issues are compounded for student athletes who generally spend at least 20 hours per week practicing and competing.

Despite the heated debate, USG members said they were impressed with the quality of the SAAC presentation and preparation.

“When they came to us they already had the ball rolling,” USG Executive Vice President Blandon David said. “They’d already talked to academic advising, Dean [James] MacLaren and some other groups. They were just looking for support from us.”

Nicoll said that the second and third USG meetings were much less contentious.

“People were more concerned that we should take more time in drafting legislation, but ultimately we were able to get supportive legislation passed and USG submitted a letter of support,” Nicoll said.

The presentation emphasized that Tulane is currently the only school in Conference USA that does not allow student athletes to register before the rest of the student body.

“This is really a matter of trying to achieve a balance between academics and athletics,” Athletic Director Rick Dickson said. “It’s just a practical problem. Student athletes have issues getting into classes even when there are multiple sections.”

SAAC and the athletic department are currently working with advising and the university registrar to implement the changes. Though there is no timeline, Nicoll, Dickson and Vollmerhausen all said they hoped the changes could be made for the upcoming fall semester.

“I really hope this doesn’t increase the gap between students and student athletes,” Nicoll said. “I hope that it sheds more light on our situation and what we’re dealing with.”

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