University News

Protestors rally against proposed cuts to teams

By
Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

About 75 students gathered on the Main Green Monday afternoon to protest the Athletics Review Committee’s recommendations to cut four varsity teams, and some protestors continued to express dismay over the proposal to President Ruth Simmons during her open hours later in the day.

Most of the protesters were members of the wrestling team, women’s ski team and men’s and women’s fencing teams, which could lose all support from the University if Simmons and the Corporation accept the committee’s suggestions for the 2011-12 academic year. Though it is a club program, the men’s ski team, which is also facing the possibility of being cut, was represented at the rally as well.

Over the course of the hour-long protest, students and alums expressed general frustration with the committee’s report and tried to disprove what they saw as inconsistencies and misinformation.

“The fact of the matter is that the committee’s report was based on no facts,” said Krista Consiglio ’11, captain of the women’s ski team, to cheers from the ralliers. The report lists extensive travel as one explanation for dropping the ski team, but after calculating other teams’ travel, Consiglio and her teammates found they drove fewer miles than most other winter sports teams.

Wrestler Daniel Cataldi ’14 countered the report’s description of the wrestling program as “one of our more expensive programs to support.” Except for coaches’ salaries, the program receives all its funding from other sources, Cataldi said.

“It may be (an expensive sport), but the school doesn’t pay that,” he said.

Other students pointed out that the men’s fencing team placed 13th at the NCAA Fencing Championships. According to the report, the program is not yet at the “necessary level for a high-quality competitive experience” and could not reach that intensity of competition without significant financial investment.

In addition to calling specific facts from the report into question, students said they feel disempowered by the committee’s recommendation.

“How would you feel if they took your family away from you?” asked Brady Caspar ’13, who said the men’s ski team is his primary community at Brown. Without their teams, many students will lose support systems and structures they need in college, he said.

David Gustovich ’95, a former wrestler, said cutting the programs will deny future students the chance to receive high quality education — particularly since the teams attract students from diverse socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds who might not otherwise gain admission to the University.

“This is a symbolic thing,” said Sam Barney ’12, one of several non-athletes at the rally. She said the school would be reneging on its commitment to support students’ passions by cutting the teams. “This is our University turning its back on us,” she said.

Simmons and the Corporation will decide in May whether to accept the committee’s recommendations. In the meantime, the athletes say they will continue to voice opposition to the proposed measures, particularly during meetings with committee members this week.

Several students met with Simmons Monday afternoon after the protest to discuss their concerns, said wrestler Hudson Collins ‘11.5.

Alums are also getting involved in the effort. Rob Davidson ’70, former captain of the wrestling team, said he is part of an active group of former athletes fundraising to make the wrestling team more self-sufficient and contacting committee and Corporation members to express disapproval of the proposed cuts.

Although the majority of protestors at Monday’s rally stood to be affected personally by the cuts, a contingent of non-athletes and athletes on unaffected teams also joined the effort in solidarity.

“We’re going to talk to President Simmons, we’re going to talk to the people we know on the Corporation, and we’re going to save Brown athletics,” said field hockey captain Tacy Zysk ’11.