Web Exclusives: From the P-Nut Gallery
a column by Nate Sellwyn firstname.lastname@example.org
an alternative view of the seven-week rule, see President Tilghman's
President's Page in February 26, 2003, issue.
to the seven-week rule
Why don't tuba players
get a moratorium?
By Nate Sellyn '04
It was bound to crop up eventually, tearing me away from my steady
diet of interviews and ranting. Yes, it was only a matter of time,
and here it is here, rearing its ugly head: an issue! The seven-week
What is it? Well, it's a sports issue, and a big one. The moratorium
henceforth to be referred to as the 'Mistake' is a
measure the Ivy League presidents adopted last summer which prevents
all student-athletes from engaging in their sport for seven weeks
out of the year. The bounds of this measure are fairly extensive.
The athletes cannot practice with their coaches, in their facilities,
or with their teammates during this period, even in a strictly voluntary
The presidents, especially our own Chief Tilghman, believe the
Mistake will allow student-athletes to begin truly sucking the universities
dry during their time on campus. In these seven weeks, they believe,
student-athletes will engage in activities, academic opportunities,
and social events that their athletic endeavors would have otherwise
prevented them from. Students can go out and join a club, attend
a lecture, or do some partying that they couldn't manage if they
also had practice that day.
What are my feelings on the Mistake? Guess. The student body,
athletes, and pretty boys like me are outraged by the idea. Their
objections are fairly simple:
Athletics at Princeton and the other Ivies are voluntary. Since
no athletic scholarships are awarded, no one plays sports because
of anything other then his or her own desire. By preventing students
from playing and practicing, the presidents will be limiting the
freedom of those they are trying to help. Imagine if the same idea
were applied to another student group? What if musicians couldn't
practice? What if the Daily Princetonian office couldn't publish?
What if the debate team were muted? The presidents would be laughed
right out of their... presidential-idea presentation places! Shirley
Tilghman would be laughed right out of Nassau Hall! That's better.
It's an entirely legitimate argument that athletics are just as
important to Princeton as any of the above activities. So the outcry
should be of similar volume. The student-athletes have been very
vocal about their opposition, why is their opinion not changing
Ivy League legislation on sports participation is already pretty
heavy, and frankly, it shows. Many teams are not very competitive
at the Division I level. If things got worse, several teams would
simply become laughing stocks... For example, according to the Princeton
Varsity Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, in single semester team
sports, the amount of out-of-season practices the Ivy League permits
is 12, while other D-I teams average 43. Also, Ivy teams' season
lengths in weeks average 72% of the permissible D-I weeks.
Student-athletes simply aren't very restricted at the moment.
Varsity athletes are involved in almost every organization on campus,
despite their athletic obligations. They sing, they play, they write...
Sure, being part of a team prevents you from doing some things.
Some clubs simply require a huge deal of time. However, these same
clubs take up just as much time, if not more, than being an athlete.
Why do they not face limitations?
Currently enrolled students chose Princeton knowing they could
come here and experience the ultimate combination of athletics and
academics, competing at the highest level in one while excelling
and being in the best environment for the other. With the Mistake,
students will have their athletic experience one they chose
devalued and reduced. Their competitiveness will suffer,
their enjoyment will suffer, and their time at Princeton will suffer.
The USG and the Princeton Varsity Student-Athlete Advisory Committee
(VSAAC) have joined to fight President Tilghman together on the
matter of the Mistake. A USG Resolution contains the following highlights:
Whereas we ... representatives of the entire student body and
the student-athlete population of Princeton University affirm that
the arbitrary 7-week Moratorium is an unfair restriction on the
free time of student-athletes devised without the input of students,
current or past.
... this discrimination sets a dangerous precedent that would
be deemed unacceptable if applied to other distinct groups of students....the
Moratorium contradicts the re-affirmation of Princeton's commitment
to Division I athletics made in the mid-1990s by the Trustees of
All this said, you shouldn't just take my word for it this
is an issue that many on this campus are passionate about. Like
LeVar Burton on TV's Reading Rainbow, the P-Nut is going to get
you some other opinions. My next column will feature an interview
with VSAAC member John Knorring '03, and soundbites from a diverse
sample of the student body showing their opinions. C ya' then.
You can reach Nate at nsellyn@Princeton.EDU