Just under 90 winter athletes registered for classes on Monday, Oct. 24.
This number includes senior, junior, sophomore and freshman athletes who were able to register for classes the same day as the rest of Mercyhurst College seniors.
The athletes cleared to register early were hockey players, basketball players and wrestlers.
According to Dean of Faculty Brian Reed, Ph.D., athletes were able to register for classes with seniors because athletes aren’t able to take classes scheduled later in the day.
This winter term is the first time athletes had priority registration because it is the first term affected by the extended class times, which are in response to being out of contact hour compliance with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The later class times interfere with athletes’ practice, travel schedules and game times.
With the extended class times, athletes have fewer class time slots that fit in their availability.
“What we tried to do was make this schedule time bearable for athletes,” said Reed. “We didn’t want to do this, but it was going to be a problem.”
According to Andrea Barnett, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, allowing athletes to register with seniors “was a response to a conflict that was brought to our attention.”
Reed emphasized that allowing athletes to register early was a decision made due to the change in contact hours. He said the calendar system, university status, the 2020 strategic plan and the core classes are being worked on at the moment.
“All this stuff is happening. It’s really exciting but also kind of crazy,” Reed said.
Athletes explained how the early registration is beneficial.
Sophomore Adele Campbell, a basketball player, said, “Registering early has made it less stressful, knowing I will be able to get into my first choice classes since the classes available outside of practice times are already extremely limited.”
She explained the difficulties of scheduling practices with the later class times.
“Having a team full of students with different majors makes scheduling practice around classes extremely
difficult, especially with the small size of Mercyhurst with a narrow range of classes offered each term,” she said.
Freshman Catherine Willard, a field hockey player, said, “As an athlete, I agree that they should be able to register first, since students have a more flexible schedule than I do, and I have to miss more classes.”
Barnett said athletic administrators met with the Office of Academic Affairs once the new class times for winter and spring terms were announced.
Reed explained the reason for the late notice of the change.
“It was done thoughtfully and because of that, it took some time,” he said. “It wasn’t done lightheartedly.”
Faculty received notice of this decision Friday morning through an email.
Faculty then had about two days to advise their freshmen and sophomore athletes. Reed said juniors and seniors should have already advised for classes by this time.
Non-athlete students were not informed of the decision. Barnett said there wasn’t a lot of time to notify students. Also, students are not always informed about college changes.
When asked about whether this will affect registration for non-athlete students, Reed said, “My hope is that it does not.”
He elaborated saying, “My feeling is it’s not going to have a huge effect on how they prepare for registering. That’s my hope.”
Reed said he thinks there wasn’t much of an effect on non-athletes because even though about 90 athletes registered Monday, some were seniors who would have registered regardless.
“It’s not really that many in winter,” he said.
Even if the number of winter athletes isn’t very high, the number of spring athletes is about 50 more than winter athletes, Reed said.
However, when calculating the number of members on the baseball, softball, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s water polo and men’s and women’s rowing teams, the total number of players equaled 180.
Some students seemed to understand the need for athletes to register early, but they were concerned about how this change will affect them.
“Freshmen registering before upperclassmen is not fair,” junior Mark Vidunas said. “I don’t have to worry too much because I’m taking mostly political science classes. I understand why they’re doing it, but I don’t think it’s fair.”
Junior Trish Armstrong said, “A lot of my classes were filled, I think mostly because seniors are trying to fill their core classes. Yes, I understand the need, especially for upperclassmen athletes, but it does put a damper on those of us pursuing double majors or contract majors.”
Reed said he doesn’t think seniors were affected by this change, but he said he isn’t sure if the other classes will be affected.
He said upperclassmen were not likely affected because the freshman and sophomore athletes were not registering for upper level classes.
Barnett explained that even if athletes did not register with seniors, “You are not guaranteed you will get the class you want.”
“We recognize that all students have challenges when it comes to scheduling,” she said. The main goal of this change was to relieve the difficulty of registering for athletes and not to “be a detriment to the students.”
Other students didn’t think the change was fair at all.
“I didn’t have many expectations about my schedule, but this certainly doesn’t help. As a freshman, I expect to be unable to get every section but don’t feel it’s right that certain athletes get precedent,” freshman Leah Voit said.
One good piece of news for students who have trouble registering for classes due to the athletes registering early is that this isn’t necessarily a permanent change, and no decisions have been made for registration next year.
“We’ve committed to winter and spring this year,” said Reed.
Barnett said she welcomes feedback from students regarding the registration changes.