A current policy at UC Davis gives Intercollegiate Athletics Department (ICA) student athletes priority registration when they sign up for classes each quarter. However, it is unfair and unnecessary to allow student athletes and any other group, for that matter, this special treatment.
ICA athletes say that priority registration is necessary because they need to be able to organize their class schedules around practices, meetings and competitions. Early registration ensures that they will be able to get into classes that do not conflict with their team commitments.
But athletes are not the only students who balance classes with other activities and time commitments. Students who commute, have jobs or participate in other time-consuming activities would also benefit from registering early and getting into classes that best fit their schedules. They do not get priority registration. It is impossible for anyone to judge whether one student’s need for priority registration is more important than another’s, so choosing only a select few students is unreasonable.
Priority registration is also defended by many as an incentive for students to join ICA sports. Some believe that offering priority registration is necessary in order to convince promising athletes to commit to a team in addition to their academic responsibilities. However, a 2007 study by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that out of 70 highly ranked universities, 25 did not give priority registration to athletes. These 25 universities included such athletic powerhouses as University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, University of Nebraska and University of Michigan, which demonstrates that colleges can still maintain successful athletic programs without offering preferential treatment.
While student athletes do benefit from priority registration, there is no way to prove that they need it any more than any other students who balance classes with other activities. Priority registration should be based on class standing only to maintain fairness among all students.