Between traveling for games, early-morning practices and other responsibilities, student-athletes at the University often have trouble making space in their schedules for classes.
Starting this winter, athletes will have class registration priority over all students except those with disabilities. The policy was enacted by University Provost Teresa Sullivan.
As it stands now, students are placed into brackets based on credit hours, and athletes have priority at the top of their designated group, said Phil Hanlon, the University’s vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs.
But because of time constraints, many athletes still have trouble slotting classes into their schedule, and the new policy places them at the front of the pack.
“It’s an effort to be sure that they can register for the classes to be able to graduate in a timely manner,” Hanlon said.
Hanlon said the policy will also help student-athletes meet academic benchmarks mandated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. If they can’t register for certain classes, they could lose their eligibility.
LSA senior Skylar Andrews, a member of the varsity women’s soccer team, said the new policy could the many student-athletes who need to take an extra year to graduate.
“Every student-athlete on this campus has dealt with this issue,” she said. “If student-athletes were able to get into some of these classes that fit into their schedule and fit into their requirements for graduation, I think a lot of student-athletes wouldn’t have to take that extra year.”
Andrews said a demanding schedule during her freshman year prevented her from getting into the classes she needed to apply for the Communications Studies program. As a result, she had to stay an additional spring in order to graduate in four years.
“You should not have to take classes in the summer to graduate on time,” she said.
Despite widespread support from athletes, the decision to change the registration process wasn’t an easy one, Hanlon said.
“We looked into the barriers (athletes) were facing and we also had heard about enough individual cases where it was impacting student-athletes in a negative way,” Hanlon said.
The provost also took into account two resolutions that supported changing the registration process for athletes. One was passed by the Michigan Student Assembly and the other was passed by the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, the faculty’s main governing body.
MSA President Sabrina Shingwani, who supported MSA’s resolution, said the current registration process for athletes puts them at a disadvantage.
Some assembly members opposed the resolution, saying it focused too much on University athletics instead of academics. The resolution passed, 23-3.
According to SACUA minutes from the April 14 meeting, Prof. John Lehman, a professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology, presented a similar resolution to the Academic Affairs Advisory Committee.
Law School Profs. Bruce Frier and Richard Friedman responded to the resolution by saying “the action might be viewed as arbitrary and might open the door for additional petitions,” the minutes said.
“Lehman replied that the AAAC had considered those arguments, but opted to endorse the more restrictive definitions offered by MSA,” the minutes said.
Hanlon said the new registration policy places the University on par with others schools around the nation.
“This change just puts us more in line with the other Big Ten schools, as well as Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Texas and Stanford,” he said.