Chatham athletics program excessively pushed on non-athlete students

Does Chatham put too much emphasis on sports?

Abigail Kneuss

Do you ever feel underrepresented on Chatham’s campus? Have you ever
felt that your areas of interest could use better funding and support? For many Chatham students, like myself, this is the case.

With the intent to raise admission rates, Chatham University has been placing a large emphasis on its athletic programs. With a lot of the first-year class being student athletes, athletics play a major role in the student body population and experience at Chatham. But, at what cost?

This extra emphasis on athletics undermines the importance of other clubs and estranges a student who was drawn to Chatham because of its liberal arts focus. As a liberal arts school, Chatham University allegedly stands for a 360 degree-focus on all areas of education.

Large events are held to support athletics on campus. A Midnight Madness pep rally was held in October to meet winter sports teams. The event was catered by Chipotle and free T-shirts were offered. However, the athletes got to eat before the rest of the student body, so there wasn’t much food left for everyone else by the time the doors officially opened for the event.

Chatham has made major moves in recent years to build space for the athletic programs. The Athletic and Fitness Center is one of the biggest buildings on Chatham’s Shadyside campus. Additionally, construction is underway for the UPMC Graham Field in Wilkinsburg, which will house men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse games. It’s a multi-million dollar project that’s been taken on with some grant funding.

Meanwhile, there are only a handful of functioning art printers in the Art & Design Center for students to use to print their work, and lectures are often crowded because of a lack of larger classroom spaces.

Because of growing class sizes and the Shadyside campus location, space has to be utilized efficiently. Chatham University’s focus should be on creating more space for education, too.

As a Division 3 school, academics should be the primary focus for athletes at Chatham University. The official NCAA website states that at a Division 3 school
“academics are the primary focus for Division 3 student-athletes” and that “student-athletes are integrated on campus and treated like all other members of the general student body, keeping them focused on being a student first.”

Sports teams bring in students for the University. Granted, Chatham’s quick growth in student population can be largely attributed to its recent uptick in sports recruitment.

However, there are costs that go along with upkeeping a sports team. Teams get backpacks, warm-ups and uniforms, as well as transportation to and from games. The men’s lacrosse team alone has more than a couple dozen members on the team. Considering that only 10 players are on the field at once, this is oddly disproportionate and expensive. Students are required to return some of these things after a season, but, even so, upgrades to equipment and athletic apparel over time are inevitable and cost money.

Chatham University has a dedication to creating an inclusive environment for all students, whether they’re athletes or not. Let’s not let the rapid growth of athletics on campus side track us from that.