Madeleine O'Meara, Sports Editor

You might not think that the decision of who will be the next Athletics director of Oberlin College is important. A few months ago, I would have agreed with you.

Right now, the Athletics department is in the process of hiring a new AD. This process has involved a nationwide search, the formation of a hiring committee and hours of listening sessions with students. We are now in the final stretch, with the candidates visiting campus and holding open discussion panels for students.

Unfortunately, the past two panels have been poorly attended.

You might not think that you need to go to them — you’ll play your sport regardless of who the new AD is; no one can be worse than William Roth; you’re too busy; you don’t play a varsity sport; you don’t even use the gym; you’re graduating.

At one panel, the candidate asked the eight student-athletes in the room what we would like to change about Oberlin Athletics.

One student raised his hand and began his answer with, “I am not a student-athlete, so I don’t know if I have the authority to say this, but…”

This is the exact reason you should be going. Even if you will keep playing your sport, even if you are graduating, even if you haven’t stepped inside of Philips Gym.

Every single student at this school should feel like they have a say in their physical well-being, something that is so intimately intertwined with emotional and mental well-being.

As A.D. Hogan, College senior and student advocate on the Trans Inclusion in Athletics Committee, who notably does not play a varsity sport, said, “[The Athletics director] is symbolically the figurehead for health and wellness. It’s not just about athletics and athletics teams. It’s not just about winning and losing games. It’s about fostering and building skills so that we can pursue health and wellness. It’s someone that’s actively building the infrastructure so students can have these skills for the rest of their lives.”

The Capital Campaign has made it clear that the College is preparing to make health and wellness a bigger presence on our campus. Undoubtedly, this means that athletics will be as well.

“This person will determine the vision of the next 10 to 20 years of health and wellness, given the Capital Campaign, and decide the potentiality of health and wellness. What this role could be is something I’m interested in; who can cross those institutional, cultural and academic ties,” Hogan said.

This person is going to be in charge of the $15 million that will be dedicated to health and wellness. This person is going to decide to support initiatives like the Trans Inclusion Policy. This person is going to decide what coaches are hired and will influence the types of recruits those coaches bring to campus.

Our input is only going to be as important as we make it. If fewer than 10 students out of over 2,800 fill out the evaluation forms at the end of each panel, they are not going to hold that much weight.

I am graduating in the spring. The new AD won’t really affect my experience here as a student or a student-athlete. I care because playing lacrosse has been a really important part of my life, and when I come back for reunions and alumni games, I want to know that I am returning to a department that still shares my values: a department that has handled the Capital Campaign in the responsible way, that will continue to promote the inclusion of all groups in athletics and wellness on campus and that will continue to provide a support system for students.

With two more to go, I hope that both athletes and non-athletes find time to attend these panels, whether it’s to ask the candidates about their athletic priorities or to find out if they support the addition of a sushi bar to Philips.