November 4, 2009

Rowing Team Is Being Cut, Rowers May Join HRRA

The latest victim of the college's financial cuts is the rowing team, according to the women's varsity team captain. The decision was reached by Athletic Director Sharon Beverly and Dean Kitzinger.

Apparently, the team found out about it by reading an article in tomorrow's Misc. "The athletics department should have been transparent in their decision making process, and in deciding not to share their thoughts with us, they should have at least had the decency and courtesy to share their decision with those affected by it before sharing with the campus," captain Christina Peltier '10 wrote to us in an email.

"The most upsetting fact of the matter is that there was no consultation of the student-athletes on the team," says Christina. "The administration has based their decision on participation and has neglected a very important resource in student opinion, which is becoming an alarming trend on campus."

Both men's and women's teams have won Liberty League honors, yet Christina says "the athletic department often forgets to acknowledge our accolades while praising those of more visible sports."

Administrators have proposed that Vassar rowers join the HRRA (Hudson River Rowing Association," which consists of students from various schools. To some, however, this means giving up the pride that comes from competing for Vassar.

"For many of us," Christina says, "we are losing the activity that has defined our college careers."

Update: According to the Misc's article, Dean Kitzinger believes that Vassar will save $35,000 if the rowing team participates in the HRRA, which the team's current head coach has agreed to work with. The new program will cost students $500 per semester.

The team's assistant coach will not be part of the new program.

Image via Vassar Athletics.

11.4.09 11:58pm

6 comments:

JS said...

There was a meeting scheduled for the team on Thursday November 5th at 8am. The article, is set to be in the November 5th issue of the Misc. Assuming a Tuesday deadline, one has to conclude members of the student body were privy to this news before the athletes on the team were. If it was not for this leak, they still would be.

travelkarma said...

Hi-
For those interested in helping address this issue, please become a fan of Vassar Rowing on Facebook. I for one am VERY upset this decision was made and definitely want to take action. I'm hoping if we can get a concerted effort going, we can make a change. Thanks!
Jaime-Alexis Fowler '04
(Women's Rowing Captain '01-02 and '03-04)

Leslie said...

Shocking that they didn't ask the crew team about cutting the crew team. I'm sure no one could have figured out what their opinion would have been. It really sucks for the rowers, but the athletic department needed to cut money from somewhere.

JS said...

Leslie,

None of us are naive enough to believe that the rowing team would have been able to save itself from losing varsity status. Everyone can and should be asked to make some small sacrifices to preserve the long-term health of the College.

But I hope you can understand how it is offensive for administrators to work behind closed doors, come up with a plan that "takes care of the team" and then expects those rowers to take it or leave it. It strikes me as paternalistic and condescending that they didn't think the rowers had anything of value to add to the discussion.

I don't like that the Men's and Women's Rowing (they are separate teams, no matter what official college parlance says), are being dropped, but there are realities on the ground, which you correctly alluded to. However the manner in which that decision was reached is what is problematic and irksome to past and present members of the rowing teams.

This matter affects more than just those student athletes. It should be troubling to anyone invested in any academic department or student activity, because it sets a precedent that the administration can and will make significant and unilateral changes to other orgs in the name of financial security. Top-down authoritarian policies run against the principles upon which this college was founded. Men's and Women's Rowing may be the first example of this in a while, but it certainly will not be the last.

-A rowing alum

DK said...

As a current high school coach, in upstate New York, I think the college should have considered, when deciding to make cuts to student athletic teams, that when students look at colleges, they look at their athletic teams as well. I have an athlete who recently visited Vassar, loved it, and with the recent, and sudden, drop of the rowing team, no longer wants any part of Vassar. She will not be filling out an application, much less will she be considering attending a school which will so quickly drop any athletic team. This sudden drop of an athletic team makes the colleges athletic department, as a whole, seem very volatile. I think athletics are an important part of a college, and an important part of what draws new students to a college. Dropping any sports team entirely does not seem like the best way to save money.

JS said...

DK,

That's a great anecdote and point (Well it's not great, it's disturbing like this whole situation, but you know what I mean). Thank you for sharing that. I'm sure your athlete isn't the only one.

Dean Rachel Kitzinger (rakitzinger@vassar.edu) and AD Sharon Beverly (shbeverly@vassar.edu) would be very interested to know what you just posted here.