Scoring top athletes not main goal

One provision of the Athletics and Recreation Review, released in July, calls for early pre-registration for student-athletes. Chair of Athletics and Recreation Leslie Dal Cin said the change would give flexibility to students trying to juggle team commitments and academics.

A second recommendation proposed student-athletes be offered letters of admission earlier in the year. Queen’s is currently one of the last Canadian schools to offer acceptance letters and consequently loses promising athletes to other universities, Dal Cin said.

Athletes should be recognized as being assets to the school—their extracurricular contributions are substantial and often come at the expense of their free time and sometimes their academics. The assertion that student-athletes give more to athletics than other students give their extracurriculars—a notion that seems embedded in the proposed changes—is a contentious one. Many would argue that, if the proposals are put in place, athletes would be privileged over other students that donate as much time and commitment to Queen’s.

Athletes aren’t the only ones challenged with balancing school with outside activities. Separating athletes from the rest of the student body creates a social and academic stratification that isn’t justifiable or necessary.

If athletics and academics are butting heads, as the review alleges, perhaps the school should consider solutions that would enhance our academic capacity, such as expanding the course calendar. If the already limited courses aren’t in ideal time-slots for them to choose from in the first place, early pre-registration wouldn’t help athletes optimize their schedule.

American universities have often been accused of elevating student-athletes and lowering their entrance standards in the process. But Queen’s doesn’t place the same emphasis on athletics as our American counterparts. Sending out admissions letters earlier in the year creates inequality by putting athletes on a pedestal before they’ve even set foot on campus.

It’s undeniable that our student-athletes contribute a great deal to the Queen’s community. Their hard work and dedication is commendable, but that doesn’t mean being on a team makes you worthier than those donating time to non-athletic activities. Students come to Queen’s because they’re offered a high-quality education and the opportunity to pursue their interests and talents. Discrimination based on those interests and skills will have a polarizing effect and bring the University’s priorities into question.

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