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1/5 of varsity athletes sign letter in support of O4S

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On March 26, Voices published Swarthmore Athletes’ Statement of Solidarity with Organizing for Survivors (O4S). 112 out of 550 student athletes signed the statement from a variety of different varsity teams on campus, which came out to about ⅕ of varsity student-athletes choosing to put their name on the letter in support. The statement declared student athletes’ support for sexual assault survivors and allies, specifically highlighting O4S’s demands to terminate the frat leases to Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon and democratize the spaces by the start of the 2018-19 school year. The statement addressed the association of athletics with the frats, but maintained that the athletic community still fully supports O4S and all of its demands. This choice to specifically support ending the fraternity leases with Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon has caused discussion among the athletic community, as many members of the varsity sports teams here are either members, or associates of the fraternities. While the statement of solidarity makes a statement on behalf of all members of the athletic community, only ⅕ of Swarthmore varsity athletes chose to sign the statement.

The Swarthmore athletes’ statement of solidarity reads, “this is a statement on behalf of Swarthmore Student Athletes to declare our support for sexual assault survivors and allies as they strive to implement crucial changes in Title IX policies. The athletic community makes up a large portion of the population of Swarthmore College, 36% of the 1,581 students at Swarthmore to be precise. We have survivors among us, and it is time for us to stand up for our teammates, friends, and community. We stand with O4S as they hold Swarthmore’s administration accountable for neglecting the needs and safety of survivors, and pressure the administration to take reformative actions to minimize the possibility of future sexual violence.”

The letter states that the athletic community fully supports all the demands of the O4S, and acknowledges that while the athletic community has strong ties with the fraternities, the athletic community still supports O4S’ demands for Swarthmore College to relinquish its leases with the fraternities.

The statement ends emphatically, calling for athletes to stand up and support survivors.

“We urge all members of Swarthmore’s Athletic community to reflect upon where they stand in terms of support for O4S, and to ask themselves what systems of injustice they are perpetuating through their silence,” the statement reads.

The Swarthmore athletes’ statement of solidarity was written and distributed to varsity teams by Sarah Girard ’19 of volleyball and track and field, Alex Frost ’20 of women’s soccer, Lilly Price ’20 of cross country and track, and Irina Bukharin ’18 of cross country and track. The Phoenix reached out to all four of these student-athletes, but none of them returned requests for comment. One of the four creators said that she did not feel comfortable answering any of the questions without consulting the other three members who helped draft the statement.

Taylor Chiang ’18, a captain of the women’s lacrosse team, expressed solidarity with the movement and illuminated her reasons for signing the letter.

“I signed the student athletes’ letter in solidarity for O4S because personally, I’m in support with all the demands O4S listed. I think bringing awareness and public support for these issues is important. Athletes are a large portion of the student body that frequently take part in the party scene on campus, and I think by signing this letter we can show other students and administration that we are in solidarity and put more pressure for policy changes,” Chiang said.

Members of Swarthmore women’s basketball and softball team who did not sign the statements also gave insight on to their reasoning behind this decision. All four members of these teams who answered chose to remain anonymous, for fear of backlash from the student body. One anonymous female athlete responded, when asked why she did not sign the statement with “I agree with 95% of what was written, but can’t sign something that is going to the administration unless I agree with 100% of it.”

She did not elaborate on what parts she dissented to, but implied that the end to the leases of the fraternity house played a major role in her decision. Most of the female athletes who gave insight on why they did not sign it had similar reasoning; they did not feel comfortable putting their name on something with which they were not fully on board. Another female athlete did not sign it because she frequently goes to the fraternities for social events and felt that signing this statement would make her a hypocrite.

After O4S’s first couple organizing meetings, almost every affinity group, and many student organizations came out with letters expressing solidarity with the movement. Notable letters included those from the Residential Assistants, DPAs, and affinity groups like SASS (Swarthmore African American Student Society), or SAO (Swarthmore Asian Organization). O4S has also received considerable support from members of faculty, as many have attended rallies, community forum meetings, and brought the ongoing campus discussion to their classes. For example Daniel Laurison, assistant professor of sociology, made one of his suggested topics for his foundation of sociology class campus sexual assault, Title IX, and support for survivors.

Out of the 112 of athletes who signed the statement, only 25 of those were male. There was a glaring lack of male signatures. Zero members of the men’s baseball, lacrosse, and basketball teams signed the letter. Six signed from men’s soccer. This distinct lack indicates that athletics at Swarthmore could be one of the major problems O4S might face in changing Swarthmore’s culture around Title IX reform. The varsity athletics community makes up a large portion of the population of Swarthmore College, 36% of the 1,581 students at Swarthmore to be precise.

In order to garner support from the athletic community, O4S may have to reach out and spread their message on a wider scale, especially explaining their long term goals, in order to resonate with people from the athletic department. It is also important to acknowledge that varsity athletes range in levels of involvement outside of athletics. Some athletes have been very involved in the O4S movement and activism around Title IX, and some haven’t. While Swarthmore Athletes’ Statement of Solidarity shows that a significant number of athletes do fully support the O4S movement, it seems like the athletic community is divided over the letter. Some members of the athletic community claim to agree with most, but not all of what O4S is calling for, and subsequently did not sign the letter. However, the messaging on the call to democratize the fraternity spaces have become more complicated. To many, it seemed like this was one of the main focuses of the movement, particularly following the numerous signs that appeared in Sharples, Parrish, and Kohlberg in the past couple weeks, calling for the end of fraternity housing. After going to Community Forum IV on Wednesday April 4, I learned that shutting down Greek Life is not a goal for O4S. While the movement still wants Swarthmore to eventually end the lease on fraternity housing, this is not high on their list of things they want to change in the present. The group is committed to transformative justice, and reimagining how the Title IX system works at Swarthmore all together. They also commented on how cutting the leases with the fraternities would not prevent groups from using that space for parties, including the fraternities if they reserve that space. This would turn these two houses into spaces like Paces and Olde Club. Instead of shutting down Greek life, they want to focus on a shift in school culture that prioritize the needs of survivors.  The athletic community might be more willing to support O4S, and less divided amongst itself, if they actually research the O4S demands, particularly how they’ve evolved over the last week or so. In the midst of these ongoing discussions, the athletic department have heard the complaints and issued a mandatory Sexual Violence Team Training for each team in the athletic department in the coming weeks. While this is certainly not a final solution, it is a first step towards creating a more supportive athletic community.

Swat’s Culture of Athletes Supporting Athletes

in Columns/Sports by

As the Men’s Basketball team completed their final seconds of the Centennial Conference Championship game, the crowd erupted and rushed the court to celebrate the win. This crowd was distinctly comprised of fellow athletes with almost every team having at least one representative in attendance for the victory. Here at Swarthmore, athletes support athletes. The pictures and videos from the Men’s Basketball and Women’s Soccer Championships make this fact visually apparent. This support comes from awareness of events, love of sports, and an understanding of other athletes.

        For some athletes, their awareness of games comes from their teammates, whereas for others it is simply conversations with friends to keep them updated. Events such as this weekend’s upcoming basketball games are well publicized, but sometimes it is easy to forget the regular season games for various teams and that’s when teammates can come in handy.

Women’s Softball pitcher, Emily Bowman ’18 said, “As a team, we keep each other posted on the games that are going on throughout the week, and we try to save seats for each other to get as many people from our team together at a game.”

Coaches often like to remind their teams when other events are as well, to both support their fellow coaches or to set an example for an atmosphere that they would love to have at their own games.

Volleyball setter Elise Cummings ’19 said, “Our coach makes a big point of having us go to other sports teams’ games because she thinks it’s always important that student athletes support each other.”

The genuine love of sports makes a general awareness and commitment to attend games possible. While all tend to love and excel at their own sport, they have either come in with a true love of other sports or have developed an interest based on their friends’ sports.

Runner Joaquin Delmar ’18 said, “I have grown to like new sports from my time here at Swarthmore and I love the fact that my friends are playing these sports.”

There certainly are some sports that get more support than other, as component of their style and performance.

“Men’s basketball, both soccer teams, and men’s lacrosse in my opinion get the bulk of our support. It has to do largely with how well these teams are doing and the nature of the sporting event,” Delmar said.

Hopefully this support will continue for the Garnet’s Men’s Basketball team into the NCAA tournament. During the playoffs, more fans typically attend the games. It is safe to say that the bedrock crowd finds its majority in fellow athletes. Within this program there is a strong sense of camaraderie as we are all athletes, classmates and friends.

Defensive lacrosse player Christina Labows ’18 said, “I believe Swarthmore athletics has a good culture. It is balanced in the sense that we celebrate each other’s accomplishments, but recognize that results are not the end-all-be-all of our time as a Swarthmore athlete.”

        This bond within the athletics department does not always carry over into non-athletic realms on campus.

Cummings said, “Within the athletic department there is a really positive culture, but from the outside looking in there is not the best view which is why it is so important to support each other.”

Often, athletes tend to understand each other well, but not all students are on the same page about the commitment to sports.

        “There is a definite disconnect between athletes and non-athletes on campus,” Bowman said.

However, other people who agreed with the initial disconnect also remarked on the efforts that the college has undertaken to make the athletics realm more appealing for certain non-athletes. Some non-athletes are unaware many athletes do get into Swarthmore completely on their own academic merit and it is important to break that misconception that they do not.

“Continued efforts to break the sporty boundary are definitely happening and I think our campus is reaching a point where non-athletes are much closer to athletes. In my three years, I have seen increasing appreciation for the commitment athletes have for their sports and the way they represent our school,” Delmar said.

This growing community throughout the college is key, and the inroads that teams, such as the soccer and basketball teams, are making by competing in playoffs are vital to increase support on campus. Swarthmore athletics have certainly had past disappointments with support, such as when the fan bus to the Men’s Basketball away playoff game got cancelled last year because not enough students signed up. While we need to work to add to the fan base so that we will never have to cancel a fan bus again, at least we always know that there will be fellow athletes at games.

“The athletes at our school are great! Everyone is very supportive. We’re such a small school that many athletes interact with each other in classrooms. We all know each other’s sports and I genuinely feel everyone is supportive of each other,” Delmar said.

Each year Swarthmore welcomes in new athletes, who then commit themselves to this same support system. Hopefully a continued excellence in sports will draw large crowds, but when in doubt, even on a team’s toughest day, they can have faith that their fellow athletes will be in the stands to cheer them on no matter what.

Athletic trainers care for club and varsity athletes alike

in Campus Journal by

Most of us are a little too familiar with the struggles of being unhealthy at Swat, whether it be the inescapable grasp of Swat Plague, or a Friday morning, or gaining the freshman fifteen (or twenty). This usually results in missing a day or two of classes and lying in bed enjoying the warmth given off by your computer. For athletes however, sickness and, more often, injuries, become a little more serious than staying home and resting your body.

 

The Sports Medicine staff of four provides care to both varsity and club athletes during their seasons, as well as the occasional non-athlete when referred by the on campus health center.

 

The primary difference between varsity and club sports is that varsity athletes have an assigned trainer who travels with the team to ensure that students are kept safe and to provide the necessary treatment if an athlete is injured during practice or at a game. Students on varsity and club are both encouraged to seek help from the trainers if they are hurt.

 

Head athletic trainer Marie Mancini said each trainer is assigned a high-risk varsity sport to follow, but that they treat club and varsity athletes the same in the athletic center. “Of course we have more of a relationship with our varsity athletes because we spend the majority of our time with them. The club members are welcome to this room at any time, as long as they come in during their season, and they’re treated the same as anyone else,” Mancini said.

 

First year Gilly Gehri plays women’s rugby, a club sport, and injured her foot during a tournament after being tackled by an opposing player. She made a visit to the trainers, who examined her foot and told her to seek further help at a hospital. “They were super helpful. One of the trainers drove me to the doctor and she was super nice,” Gehri said.

 

Gehri said she wasn’t treated very differently being a club sport athlete rather than varsity, aside from not having a trainer at the actual match. “I did have to be kind of proactive about going to the trainers, but I think once I was there they did a really great job helping me out and providing me with new crutches and rides to and from the hospital,” Gehri said.

 

Jonathan Saltzman, captain for men’s club soccer and a member of the varsity track team, believes that the trainers are used much more frequently by varsity athletes than club. “People [on club sports] just don’t really go into the trainers because it’s too much trouble and they don’t care that much,” Saltzman said.

 

Saltzman said this could be due to a feeling of greater necessity among varsity athletes to get injuries healed quickly.  Less competitive club sports may not experience the same level of urgency. “For club soccer, dealing with an injury is you miss practice for a week and then you’re fine. For varsity […] if you’re not coming to practice you have to be going to the trainers and getting proper treatment to get better,” Saltzman said.

 

With the typically bigger commitment to playing a varsity sport, having immediate access to trainers is a necessity in order for students to make every practice and play at a competitive level. “It’s a team sport, and they need you to be committed, they need you to be there consistently, you can’t just miss a game or something,” Saltzman said.

 

Access to the trainers is only available to athletes in the season of their sport due to restrictions in state licensure; during off season they are treated like anyone else coming into the athletic office, and need a referral by a doctor or physician to see the trainers. “Kids will complain about [not having access to us during off season] as much as I try to explain the law. I like taking care of these kids, but not so much that I’m going to lose my job because it’s an inconvenience for them to go to the health center or to emergency care during off-season,” Mancini said.

 

Mancini said the advances of state licensure has restricted what they are allowed to do as trainers in the past few years. “We treated just about everybody before. We treated non-athletes and just about anybody who walked in, but now we are not allowed to do that; we have to see people only upon referral of a physician,” Mancini said.

 

In order for student athletes to stay healthy during their season, Mancini tells students to listen to their bodies for signs that something might be wrong, and maintain a healthy diet during the season. “I always tell them in the beginning of the season, especially the women, that now is not the time to diet, now is the time to feed your bodies and if something doesn’t feel right you need to get it checked out,” Mancini said.

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