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Friday, April 19, 2024 — Houston, TX

Athletes and nonathletes stronger together

12/1/15 5:07pm

Rice isn’t so big at all. It’s not the University of Texas, or Baylor, or Texas A&M. Rice is a small campus where you see the same people just about every day. Each semester we walk, skate and pedal past the same peers to and from the same classes. Because of this, Rice has the beautiful potential to build and cultivate a compassionate community that reflects the ideals of its conception. However, there exists a prevalent schism among our general student population that threatens the greatness of our community. At Rice, so many barriers and borders bleed together to create diversity that marks our university in almost every facet of campus life. Yet, the disunion between athletes and nonathletes persists and continues to infect the collective strength of our community. Obviously class schedules, practice times and extracurricular events create logistical clashes bound to occur between nonathletes and student athletes, but the simple virtues of kindness and amiability still play a crucial role in uniting the two groups. Support and participation should come from both sides. Nonathletes should support their athlete peers at sporting events and competitions, while athletes should strive to increase their visibility and participation in their residential colleges and the lives of their peers. Rather than viewing this as an exchange, it should be seen as a way of promoting the health of our community and improving our individual experiences here at Rice.

Many students who don’t participate in Division 1 sports at Rice feel that athletes come off as intimidating and unapproachable. Likewise, athletes share similar feelings toward nonathletes. “Jock” and “nerd” stereotypes aside, the issue at hand is larger than insensitive labels. The issue isn’t a matter of two sides making amends, but that the two groups are ignorant of their commonalities and the little effort required to richly enhance the quality of the lives lived here on Rice’s campus. Here the phrase “culture of care” is thrown around in O-Week groups and informational sessions. While this maxim, simply put, refers to one’s citizen duty to aid in the care for his drunken brother or sister, the phrase in our ideal society should extend toward the overall atmosphere of compassion that ought to characterize our students, faculty and staff.

Rice, like any great place, is made greater by the people who make up its body. Athletes and nonathletes are components of the body, not separate elements. We all are residents of Houston. We are students and Rice Owls. Rather than focus on how our course schedules, practice schedules, friend groups or hobbies make us different, we should focus on how they make us unique and how they help add to the story of Rice University. This may seem ultra-idealistic, or a tad bit cliche some would say, but amid the attempt to strive for this ideal, even in failing, we may land in a better place that still addresses the silent tension between nonathletes and athletes at Rice.

Nahshon Ellerbe is a Wiess College freshman

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