Thursday, February 1, 2007

Student Senate Kicks Butt

From the Post:

Student Senate to form athletic affairs committee
Resolution passed condemning the cutting of varsity teams

Student Senate yesterday demanded budget justifications, analysis of considered alternatives, and all memoranda and meeting minutes involved in the athletic department’s recent decision to cut four varsity sports.

The resolution condemning the cuts passed unanimously without any debate or discussion.

“I’ve been lied to,” said Matt Bell, senator at-large and primary sponsor of the resolution. “I, amongst other student athletes, were told swimming and diving wouldn’t be cut during my tenure at OU. … There’s a major ethical conflict involved in not informing students of their financial situation.”

Bell said that the athletic department has had financial problems since 2002 but continued to recruit students to the men’s swimming and diving, men’s track and field, and women’s lacrosse teams. He was upset that teams were not given warning or the option to do fundraising activities.

“The teams were never given a chance to try to keep their teams in existence,” Bell said. “This decision to cut these sports needs to be very seriously re-examined.”

Chris Diehl, Residence Life commissioner and another sponsor of the bill, argued there should have been more student input in the decision.

“This is a major policy shift for a major department ... and it seemed that everyone had an influence except those directly affected,” he said.

Senate plans to form an Athletic Affairs committee comprising 3 to 4 senators, representatives from the cut sports as well as sports still in existence, an athletic department administrator, a member of a club sport and an administrator from the Student Affairs office. The Student Affairs representative might not be a voting position.

Kent Smith, Student Senate adviser and vice president for Student Affairs, suggested adding a member of his staff to the committee to avoid a disconnect between administrators and students.

“For me it’s just about connection,” he said. “To make sure we’re in the loop as well.”

The committee’s goal would be to increase communication between athletes and administrators, Bell said.

“The main purpose is to bring members of the athletic community together,” he said. “Another big point is the communication not only between sports but between the students and administrators needs to change.”

Tim Vonville, Off-Campus Life commissioner and the bill’s third primary sponsor, expanded the committee’s mission.

“It’s also to make sure that this never happens again,” he said, adding that he hopes the group will be able to get the cut teams reinstated.

Allen Brindle, a member of Students Defending Students, used the Speakout portion of Senate’s meeting to encourage a vote of “no confidence” against OU President Roderick McDavis.

“These problems can be fixed,” he said, referring to student rights issues. “But the only way is with new leadership.”

Senate did not address his suggestion during its meeting.

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