Rumor Has It: Dickinson Edition

Matthew Korb '14, Editor-in-Chief

This year, with the new college president, Nancy Roseman, and Vice President of Student Development, Joyce Bylander, some students have become worried about the future of old institutions and organizations on campus. Rumors have begun to circulate about sports, Greek life and even an old staple, the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

To help lessen these fears, The Dickinsonian sat down with Bylander and Dean of Admissions Stephanie Balmer to get to the truth beneath these rumors.

Below are excerpts from the talk.

Matthew Korb ’14: This has been floating around: the idea that the administration wants to remove or cut back on varsity, junior varsity and club sports on campus.

Joyce Bylander: In terms of sports and intramurals, we have full time staff positions devoted to intramurals and club sports. If anything, I’ve been working since July to strengthen that position. Last year, [Rob Simels] gave a lot of attention towards developing a Dickinson Sports Club council and getting in place certain kinds of issues around risk management, which are important to the college. But also he has given a lot of support to equestrian and hockey – probably our two biggest groups, except maybe Jive Turkey. He’s given a lot of attention to push further into the rest of club sports, so that they are also supported.
I really can’t see how people would think this was true. President Nancy Roseman is probably one of the most active presidents we’ve ever had. She had a hike to lead into her inauguration. She is an active person and she knows the value of activities. We don’t take advantage of our location as well as we could. We are surrounded by all kinds of opportunities for outdoors, sports and adventure.

Stephanie Balmer: I think the other part to mention is that we are adding two new varsity sports for the first time in over twenty years: women’s squash and men’s squash. This is an opportunity to encourage participation and encourage activity. It’s an area that’s been in high demand for a number of years. I remember that within my first few weeks at Dickinson, I had plenty of faculty come up to me and say we should have a squash team on campus.

Korb: We’ve also heard rumors that there are plans to kick ROTC off campus.

Bylander: I have never had a conversation with President Roseman about ROTC. For the fifteen years I’ve been here, I’ve been supportive of ROTC. I went to a C-PAC (Civilian Personnel Advisory Center) summer training with ROTC. Some of the finest Dickinsonians have been in ROTC and so I’ve not been privy to any conversations about that.

Balmer: Never has it come up in any conversation, for the five years that I’ve been here, on can we or should we sustain this vital program. We have a fifty-year tradition with the blue mountain battalion. ROTC commissioning ceremony is a vital part of commencement weekend. My point being is to simply give examples of how the program is respected and honored on the campus.

Korb: This is probably the oldest rumor: the school is out to get Greek life, and the administration wants to use the moratorium as a club to destroy fraternities and sororities.

Bylander: The moratorium did call for a comprehensive look at Greek life and we were going to bring in outside consulting. We recalibrated that and we decided that this was a moment for us to look at the student experience instead of just focusing on Greek life. And I can tell you that this is a decision that we reached, with President Roseman in discussion. We didn’t think it made sense to focus a lot of attention and energy and dollars on looking at Greek life again. In the fifteen years that I’ve been here, we’ve done multiple Greek life studies. It’s a smaller part of our population, 20 to 27 percent of the population at a given time. What about the other 80 percent of the student body? We really want to look broadly at the student experience. Greek life is certainly a part of the student experience for some students, but what about the vast majority of students who it is not? That will be the focus.
It will be interesting that we were going to focus on them and now we are not going to focus on them, because we are going to focus on the whole student body, and Greek life is a part of that experience, yes, but will not be the focus of our attention.