Lawrence’s rowing team needs support

Jeff Billings

The Rowing Program has a long tradition here at Lawrence. The rowing tradition started at Milwaukee-Downer College in the early 1900’s, and has carried on and off until this date. For the last 13 years the Lawrence Rowing Program has been expanding. We have 35 athletes that compete year round. Although we are a club sport, we operate under the mindset of a varsity program.I believe that several actions taken by the University in the last few years have put the Rowing Program in jeopardy. Beginning three years ago, Lawrence University refused to finance a Rowing coach. While we were dismayed, the rowing program was able to adapt and finance our own coach. Next came the budget cut to our program. Rowing had been receiving around $10,000-$17,000 annually from the university. This year our budget was slashed to $4,500. The most recent trouble happened just a few days ago. Lawrence has told the Rowing Program that it cannot return for preseason. The reasons behind the move to limit who can come back for preseason are sound. It is costly for the university to house and feed students for the 3-4 weeks that they are on campus. However, the memo that came from the Dean of Students office on this issue specifically stated that athletes would not be affected by this new policy.

Lawrence Rowing needs a preseason-rowing program. You cannot simply step into a boat after a summer off and row flawlessly. I have had my clashes with university policy over the last four years, but I have enjoyed my experience here at Lawrence in large part because of Rowing. If the decision about preseason stands, there will not be a rowing team on this campus in 3 years. Lawrence Rowing can survive the budget cuts, the lack of support for a coach, and the university refusing to acknowledge us as a varsity sport. However, we cannot survive the university taking away our ability to practice. I realize that Lawrence must make very difficult decisions about how and where it will spend its money. Many programs, clubs and even varsity sports have felt the tightening of Lawrence’s financial belt. But to lose Lawrence’s long standing Rowing Program simply because the University will not allow us to practice is going too far. I know that many of you could care less about the Rowing Program, but if Lawrence can get rid of a program with a long standing tradition and a great alumni base, then how long will it be before the program you love is gone?