The Collegian
Sunday, July 12, 2020

First-year athletes fulfill requirements during preseason

About 40 incoming freshmen athletes took their library skills and alcohol education classes before the semester in an effort by class coordinators to make the first-year requirements more convenient for students and staff.

Freshmen usually take Library Skills 100 and an alcohol class, URAware (Wellness 085), during the academic year. The summer classes were not a special offering for athletes, Susan Breeden, the university registrar, said.

The new option intended to make it easier for freshmen to complete the non-credit requirements, especially for the students with busy schedules, and for the staff members responsible for chasing them down, humanities librarian Marcia Whitehead said.

"It worked out very well this year," Whitehead said. "We've been trying to arrange this for several years, and it didn't work out, but this year we really focused on getting it done."

Multicultural and international students were also offered the same opportunity, but only athletes took advantage of it, Breeden said.

The classes, held mid-August, conflicted with mandatory orientation for international students, said Krittika Onsanit, director of international student, scholar and internship services. They also conflicted with the pre-orientation program for multicultural students, Tinina Cade, director of multicultural affairs said.

Students from Bridge to Success, a summer transition program for incoming freshmen, also took the library course, but this has been done in past years, said Carol Wittig, head of instruction and information services for Boatwright Memorial Library. Wittig taught the summer library courses.

Freshmen field hockey players Margaret Ellis and Ann Jefferis said they appreciated the chance to get the courses out of the way before the academic year.

"I really liked doing it early because, from what I've heard from people on my hall, they had to take night classes and it was stressful," Ellis said.

Sophomore teammates Betsy Herr and Katelin Peterson emphasized the advantage.

"When I found out our freshmen got to take them during preseason, I was jealous because I know how much easier their lives will be during the semester," Herr said.

Because practice and away games limit the hours athletes are available to take these additional courses, Jefferis said this was a necessary opportunity. Breeden also made it clear that the opportunity was available to any student who was on campus early.

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The opportunity targets mostly incoming freshmen, because students receive holds on their BannerWeb accounts if they don't register for the courses by October of their sophomore year, Breeden said. Such holds motivated the library staff to coordinate with Bruce Matthews, the director of athletics and academics, to schedule the summer classes.

Matthews said the library staff had told him that they had noticed a lot of students receiving holds and asked whether it would help if the school offered the sections during the summer.

Most members of the class were freshmen, but there were also a few sophomores. In addition to freeing up time in their schedules during their fall seasons, the summer sections also created more availability in the fall sections for non-athletes, Matthews said.

Wittig said the staff had anticipated the increase of 200 students enrolled in the freshman class by adding more sections of Library Skills 100. There were still 100 openings as of the first week of school, as well as five sections that could still be opened.

Registrar evaluations of the effectiveness of offering summer sections will determine whether students on campus can take URAware early in the future, but not Library Skills, which will become part of the first-year seminars that begin next year.

"This was just an experiment," Breeden said. "We will re-evaluate to see if it was worthwhile, if there's a way we can make it available to other students."

Contact staff writer Maura Bogue at maura.bogue@richmond.edu

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