For years, college graduates have been displaying their academic success, participation in honor societies, fraternity or sorority affiliations, or recognition of their military service by wearing stoles to graduation. This year, members of the Meredith College Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) pushed for athletes to receive recognition for their hard work as student athletes during graduation ceremonies.
The Herald spoke to Grace Olufemi-Ajayi, Class of ‘23 and Vice President of SAAC. "The objectively tiny pin (that is often covered up by the hair of graduates) is simply not enough recognition for years of tears, blood, sweat and passion given to the athletic [program] at Meredith College," she explained.
During this semester, Olufemi-Ajayi wrote the "Student-Athlete Stole & Recognition Proposal" and released a Google Form asking the student body their thoughts on this issue. In the proposal, it was written that "[The SAAC] believe[s] this is a more inclusive way of celebrating all student-athletes, regardless of their GPA or academic performance, something which Chi Alpha Sigma lacks." Chi Alpha Sigma is a chapter of the National College Athlete Honor Society, which "recognizes student-athletes who excel in both the classroom and in competition," according to the athletic program’s website.
The "Student-Athlete Stole & Recognition Proposal" Google Form asked the questions "Do you think student athlete[s] should be allowed to wear a graduation stole that says ‘Student-Athlete’ on graduation day?" and "Do you think that a student's status as an athlete should be announced and recognized on graduation day?" Within 5 days of the Google Form being sent out, SAAC received 240 responses, with the majority being in favor of this initiative.
The Herald also spoke to Isabella Saudo,‘23, a member of the SAAC proposal committee, to hear her opinion on the matter. Saudo commented that "[she] was the one who actually brought up the idea to push for the student-athlete [stoles]." She also mentioned that "[she] think[s] stoles are a fantastic and simple way to recognize all student-athletes at graduation," especially since "Meredith already has wonderful ways of recognizing academics and certain clubs with stoles, so adding in the athletic perspective would really show how well-rounded and diverse the students of Meredith are."
Saudo shared that she holds this opinion as a result of "seeing [her] teammates and other student-athletes not only going through the normal pressures of school but also going [through] and dealing with the pressures and strains that being an athlete [has] on [athletes’] bodies, minds and ability to perform [their] best outside of just [their] sport."
The proposal has not yet been approved.
By Evelyn Summers, Senior Copy Editor