After recognizing a need for student athlete representation, Student Senate XXX created the student athlete constituency at the beginning of the fall 2017 semester.
Junior baseball player Mike Gibbons was one of the first members of the student athlete constituency.
“I was unaware that (the constituency) was the inaugural class of it,” Gibbons said, “because for me, it just kind of made sense that athletes would have representation.”
Gibbons said he joined Senate because he wanted to increase school pride and attendance at university events.
“I personally wanted to work on creating a link between the fraternity and sorority constituency and the athletic constituency,” Gibbons said.
Sophomore rower Charlie Williams, another member of the first student athlete constituency, said he enjoyed his experience on Senate as a student athlete representative.
“I think there’s been a very respectful dialogue between Student Senate and the student athletes,” Williams said. “We’re very new, but it’s been a positive experience.”
Gibbons said while he had a good overall experience on the constituency last semester, some things were problematic.
Late last year, Student Senate meetings were moved from twice a month to once a week. Gibbons said many athletes struggled to make it to the meetings at 4 p.m., which is when practices typically start. This made it difficult for the student athlete constituency to remain informed on issues and contribute to decisions.
Gibbons said student athletes had been invited to be a part of Senate, but concessions weren’t being made to help integrate them.
Williams said while the change in meeting times might take some adjusting, in the end, it’s so more discussions can be had and more decisions can be made at a faster pace.
Gibbons said he felt Senate president Matt Rothberg wasn’t concerned with the absence of student athletes at meetings because the athletes make up a small portion of the student body.
Rothberg and other members of Senate’s executive board declined to comment.
Williams said after working with Rothberg for a semester, he has nothing but respect for Rothberg’s understanding toward the athletes and willingness to work with them.
Freshman Senate member Meghan Reynolds agreed with Williams and said she’s been pleased with Rothberg’s leadership, his desire to connect the campus and the efforts he’s made to increase participation and representation on Senate.
“When we speak to him, he has clear and confident answers, and we are able to move on extremely satisfied with how things worked out,” Reynolds said. “He’s always able to work things out, no matter the challenge.”
Williams recognized the need to move forward in a constructive direction.
“I encourage all athletes to be a part of ironing out the wrinkles in the constituency,” Williams said, “and through that, we can usher in a new era of Student Senate.”