Staff Editorial: Athletics and Academics Cohesion

Congratulations are in order for newly elected LUCC President Jack Canfield and Vice President Devin Ditto. We look forward to seeing them lead LUCC over the next year. The policies they decide to implement can have a significant effect on student life here at Lawrence, and because of this, it is important to discuss one of the issues Canfield brought up during the LUCC Executive Election Forum. As is true for any newly elected official, there will always be a distinct gap between what an incoming LUCC President wants to accomplish and what he or she is able to accomplish. Fortunately, Canfield has demonstrated an enthusiasm that could lead to a great deal of positive change.

During the forum, which was held last Monday, Jan. 20 in the Café, Canfield fielded a number of questions, explaining proposed policies and ideas he would like to see implemented should he be elected. One of Canfield’s major stated goals was to increase support for athletics campus-wide. Some of his more specific plans included the creation of an official Lawrence pep band and coordinating with Greek organizations on campus to promote sporting events. While these ideas certainly merit discussion, the crucial conversation needs to be about the general disconnect between athletes and non-athletes on campus.

Unlike other DIII schools, Lawrence lacks a student section at its sporting events and there is rarely a strong student turnout in which the students aren’t also athletes.

It seems that Lawrentians are so focused on academics and music that athletics go by the wayside. What Canfield has raised is a question of student values.  There should be a discussion on campus of how to strengthen student support of athletics, but also how much support is feasible on a campus focused on curricular activities. We can ask how the athletics department can increase advertising to non-athletes, but we also need to ask why such a disconnect between athletes and the rest of the university exists in the first place.

Our president-elect has recognized the importance of this discussion, but until the rest of the student body recognizes it, too, Canfield may be unable to implement the kinds of changes he considers important.