Faculty Vote For More Lenient PA Sports Program

Shortly after winter vacation commenced, the Phillips Academy faculty “voted to vote” on an amended athletic requirement. The vote, which occurred on December 17, signals an encouraging victory for the student body. The results of the faculty vote show that they agree with the opinion held by most students that the requirement should be made more lenient. As the vote dictates, the faculty will either reject or accept an amended athletic requirement, drafted by the Athletic Council, on January 14. This proposal allows for a one-term break from athletics. It is said to be a compromise between the current sports requirement and the more lenient student-produced proposal presented to the faculty last spring. “It was the Athletic Council’s intention to listen to all involved parties and put forth a proposal that was representative of a compromise,” Athletic Director Martha Fenton explained. The current athletic requirement demands a commitment to a sport by students every term. Under an alternate plan presented to the faculty last spring by former Student Council members, however, Uppers and Seniors would be given the option to forego one term of athletic participation. According to the proposal, this much-needed break would lift stress from students who already typically bear a heavy academic load and would encourage students to dedicate more time to greater leadership roles in extracurricular activities Although Student Council’s proposal received a great deal of publicity last spring, it did not result in any major decision by the faculty at the time. However, after a survey of the student body issued this fall proved that the majority of students supported an altered requirement, the current Student Council reintroduced the previous Council’s position this November at the Fall School Congress. Because the proposal was not presented at a standard faculty meeting, the faculty refrained yet again from any voting. This continued stalling proved frustrating for both students and faculty, as no concrete decision on the athletic requirement had been made. Numerous peer schools, including Phillips Exeter Academy, have found that reductions in their athletic programs have proven to be irreversible. Consequently, some Phillips Academy faculty members have expressed hesitation in accepting an amended requirement. Nevertheless, if the faculty accepts the Athletic Council’s proposal, the new requirement would be in effect for a two-year trial period before being reviewed again.