[Editor’s Note: Spencer Irwin is a member of Lesley University’s men’s soccer team, and will be one of the captains next year. He is a junior, studying Secondary Education and Mathematics.]
I have never written for the Lesley Public Post until now, but what made me decide to contribute an article was an issue that affects me and all other Lesley students: our lack of athletic facilities. Lesley is a great school, but some of the community aspect is missing. I believe that athletic facilities can help achieve this sense of community. From rallying around sporting events, to participating in intramural events, having our own facilities would turn Lesley into a more well rounded place for students to grow and develop. Lesley is among the small number of schools nationwide that do not have their own athletic facilities (meaning fields and courts), and I believe this takes away from overall school atmosphere.
Lesley University’s location is certainly advantageous. It is on the doorstep of a world-class city but in a community small enough to be welcoming to all. The opportunities within Lesley and within the greater Boston community are numerous. Unfortunately with being in such a bustling neighborhood, there are some drawbacks. One of the main ones is a lack of space. All students– athletes, non-athletes, art students, etc.– have at one point or other been affected by this. Our campuses are small and squeezed into the surrounding community. As Lesley has taken many steps to improving campus life and the appeal of the university, some crucial things are still lacking. One of these being the schools athletic facilities.
The fitness center on the Doble campus is adequate and serves its purpose, but the lack of athletic complexes (fields and courts) results in some hardships. The main ones are limited hours to train and use the athletic facilities of the neighboring private high school Buckingham, Brown, and Nichols. Christopher Anderson previously had an article detailing the Turf War taking place mainly among student-athletes at Lesley. This article will focus more on the Lesley Community as a whole and the advantages that having our own closely located athletic facilities could have.
The aforementioned Doble fitness center is the main facility on campus that exercisers, both athletes and non-athletes alike, often make use of. While exercising with the provided equipment there, lifting weights and doing cardiovascular training are not for everyone. Not all people crave the gains constant gym goers yearn for. Here is where I believe Lesley’s own sports complex could come into play. Buckingham Brown and Nichols high school does not allow students to utilize its facilities unless part of a sports team; and student-athletes are only able to be there when a scheduled practice or game is taking place. These restrictions come with the distance that BB&N is from the Lesley campus. In fact, I believe that much of the student body at CLAS and LUCAD may not even know where some sports teams play, let alone when these facilities are available.
It is not just my belief that having our own place to train, practice, and play is of great important. I wanted to offer some data to support my viewpoint, and as part of my Inferential Statistics class, I conducted a small survey. I polled 20 students total, 10 athletes and 10 non-athletes. I handed out the survey to friends, acquaintances, and people in the dining halls. When asking students how important it is that Lesley University moves towards the installation of our own athletic facilities, I made some interesting discoveries. From 1 being not important at all to 10 being very important, athletes had an average ranking of 9.8. This high ranking clearly depicts the strength of opinion among student athletes. But I also polled non-student athletes. As might be expected, they did not feel as strongly as the athletes did, but there was still quite a strong favorable view: the non-student athletes had an average importance ranking of 8.2.
Another question students answered on a 1-10 scale was, “I personally would use the athletic facilities if Lesley were to install them”. After analyzing the data among the two groups I found that there was a statistically significant difference, not one just by chance, between the two groups average response. I concluded that student athletes average response score to the original question was greater than that of non-student athletes.
Finally I tested the relationship between the students’ importance level of facility installation, and whether the student was an athlete at the university or not. The result was that there was no difference, whether a student was an athlete or not; whether a student had a role on a Lesley did or whether they did not had no statistically significant effect on their views. In other words, while it might be expected that only athletes care about having our own facility, non-athletes saw it as equally important. I understand that my sample size was small, but this finding demonstrates that athletic facilities are important to Lesley students in general. Understanding this importance can give new impetus to an effort for change, and provide student voices with more strength as we move forward.
College can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming. Having extra opportunities be active, stay healthy, and participate in athletics (whether as a player or as a fan) can be a positive aspect of student life. Lesley is missing an opportunity to foster these opportunities, whether through our teams or even through intramural sports: intramurals are recreational sports that are part of so many institutions– yet Lesley doesn’t even make the list. This too is because Lesley does not have the facilities at this moment to implement any intramural activities. As a result, our students miss out on opportunities to take part in organizing their own teams and playing against other students– intramural sports are both enjoyable and beneficial, since they promote that sense of community Lesley needs to provide.
I understand that one or two articles in the Lesley Public Post will not change things overnight. I understand there are financial constraints, and I know there must be planning for change to occur. Thus, I see this article as a stepping-stone. It is something to carry with us as we move forward in this battle. There is unquestionably a long way to go, but these facilities are something worth fighting for. I hope you share my view that this is an important fight– not just for us, but for future generations of students. And if you agree, then see what you can do to get involved and make a difference. Write a letter, give a speech, talk to people in SGA or attend University Council meetings: make Lesley’s leaders and decision-makers aware of your opinions. Do whatever you can to get involved, as positive change will only come through constant effort and demanding something better.