Friday, April 19, 2013

Student Athletic Advisory Committee: The voice for student athletes on campus

By Kina Ackerman, Guest Writer

The Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) has been the voice for Pacific Lutheran University athletes while they struggle to juggle practices, competitions and academics. SAAC is intended to be a beneficial organization and has helped promote community outreach within the athletic department.
   
The athletes at PLU are one of the biggest groups in the student population. SAAC is a legislative body of representatives from each sports team that meet twice per month to discuss solutions for issues, create outreach programs and plan events for athletes.

    
“As the adviser, my role is to guide the topics SAAC covers or projects,” Jennifer Thomas, the assistant athletic director and SAAC adviser, said. “We try allowing athletes to bring up topics or issues they have within their team. We also work on community outreach within our area.”
   
This year, SAAC partnered with Metro Parks Tacoma Special Olympic athletes to host a clinic and basketball game.
   
Teaming up with the Metro Parks Tacoma Special Olympic athletes also brought about another project for SAAC.       

“[SAAC] typically does a social norming campaign each year to bring to light issues that may be relevant,” Thomas said.
   
“The past two years, due to partnership with the Special Olympics, we’ve done a poster campaign against using the word ‘retarded’ in a derogatory manner.” With these campaigns, SAAC hopes to impact not only athletes but also the PLU community. 
   
Senior Michael Brasgalla, SAAC president for PLU as well as the Northwest Conference, has been an active member of this organization for three years. Brasgalla said he hopes for the future of this organization to “improve on how athletes can be better representatives to the academic side while representing PLU to different schools on the athletic side.”
   
Aside from community outreach, SAAC also handles internal issues in athletics. One of the many issues student athletes face is the attendance policy. Athletes often miss classes because of sporting events. Some students run the risk of lowering their final course grade because of missed class time.
   
SAAC has helped different athletes work with professors to come to a mutual agreement where both academics and athletics can balance. Lauren McClung, a sophomore on the women’s volleyball team, said SAAC has helped her throughout her time at PLU.
   
“SAAC has been the middle man for me, especially about problems with missing class due to sports.”
   
When asked what he will take away from being a part of SAAC, sophomore Alan Bell, a track runner, said, “the leadership and connections I’ve made. Overall, the goal is how we can reach out and aim to change things for the athletes.”
   
Bell said SAAC affects PLU as a whole by involving campus “with athletic events to show support and bring the school and community together.”
   
Although SAAC is exclusive to athletes, they often look to students for ideas. For further details, contact Thomas in the athletic office.