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Davis

Davis, California

Monday, October 25, 2021

Students debate athlete priority registration

With pass times looming, don’t be surprised if some of your classes are already filled up. Chances are, a number of student groups including student athletes have been able to sign up for classes before you.

Students with disabilities, Davis Honors Challenge (DHC) students, Special Transitional Enrichment Program (STEP) students and Intercollegiate Athletics Department (ICA) student athletes all are given pass times on the first day of registration.

Tal Kidron, a senior history major, said he gets upset just thinking about athletes’ advantages.

“What makes an NCAA student athlete so special, that he or she can skip the line and sign up for classes before all the rest of the students?” he said. “It’s definitely a ‘fuck you’ to all non-athletes. This is an academic university, so I understand DHC students and people with disabilities getting priority, but I loathe the idea that an athlete gets a one-up on me just because he or she has a good throwing arm or can run fast.”

The priority registration for ICA athletes was implemented so that students on ICA teams can schedule their classes around practices and games.

Jessica Kepes, a sophomore human development and psychology double major and member of the UC Davis women’s rowing team before the sport was cut last year, stands by the university’s policy on priority registration for athletes.

“As an athlete, having an early pass time is the only way we can all have the same times off from class so that we can practice together,” she said in an e-mail interview. “If we don’t practice together, we can’t gel as a team and we can’t perform well when it’s time to race.”

However, Kepes, along with the women’s rowing, men’s swimming and diving, men’s indoor track and men’s wrestling teams all still receive priority registration, despite no longer having to schedule classes around ICA practices.

“As a former athlete whose team was cut last year, I don’t think there is a need for priority registration in the way that it was necessary before hand,” Kepes said. “However, I do appreciate the priority registration, seeing that we were cut without any say.”

Kepes added that priority registration does allow her and her teammates, now on the women’s rowing club team, to still schedule around practices, even though they aren’t competing at the same level. Players on other club teams, some of which still compete nationally, do not have this luxury.

In a study done in 2007 by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 70 highly ranked academic schools were asked whether or not they gave priority registration to athletes. Of the reported schools, 25 did not give any sort of registration advantage to athletes while 45 schools did. All of the UCs reported that they gave priority registration to athletes, which included Davis, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

Stanford University, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, University of Nebraska and University of Michigan, schools widely accepted as athletic powerhouses, all reported that athletes do not have priority to register for classes on their campuses.

Kepes, used to the ridicule about her priority status from her non-athlete peers, stands behind the university policy.

“I have heard the [unfair] complaint a million times,” Kepes said. “Honestly, until you’re an ICA athlete competing with the extensive hours of practice, plus games or races and other team related events, and then competing in school and classes on top of all of that, you really don’t understand how difficult and time consuming [being a student-athlete] is.”

Kidron, however, is unwavering in his views.

“I just can’t justify that. We pay the same tuition, take the same classes, and ride the same bike paths,” he said. “Athletes at UC Davis aren’t any better than any one else. Why are we treating them as such? I have extracurriculars that I need to attend too, but you don’t see the university giving me a better pass time because my job gives me shitty hours.”

Athletics Director Greg Warzecka said there are a lot of constraints and regulations student athletes must meet, such as taking 13 credits per quarter with six going toward major requirements and 40 percent of coursework toward graduation being completed by the end of sophomore year.

“These regulations and monitoring requirements severely constrain student-athletes in the scheduling of their coursework,” he said in an e-mail interview. “A student athlete cannot make up a required course in another year or during the summer if he or she is unable to register for it, nor can a student athlete afford to change his or her major in order to gain access to less crowded courses.

“As a result, student-athletes have much more intricate and inflexible regulations regarding academic progress than does the general student population.”

ANDY VERDEROSA can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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