UAF grants Election Day off to student-athletes to promote civic engagement
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The University of Alaska Fairbanks athletic department followed suit with many other schools across in the country in providing Election Day off for their student-athletes in an effort to promote civic duty.
In September, the NCAA Division I Council passed legislation that prohibited all athletic-related activities for Election Day, including practices and meetings. Soon after, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, home to UAF men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and cross country running, followed this example by also cancelling all sporting activities on November 3.
Since then, the Nanook athletic department administered the same rule to all of their coaches and student-athletes, no matter the conference or division.
“It is a great opportunity, not to just provide a day off but to provide students with the time to engage via the internet or to watch the election results after they have voted,” said UAF Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Athletics Keith Champagne. “The first and most important thing was for them to vote locally if they’re registered locally, or to have turned in their mail-in ballots and then thinking about how they can be the change they want to see in this community, on this campus, and as a society in general.”
The Patty Center Arena, where Nanook basketball and volleyball competes and practices, was closed to athletics on Tuesday and transformed into a polling location for those who live on campus, many of which being student-athletes. Champagne understands that many of the UAF student-athletes come from all parts of the country, creating an inclusive campus.
“We are recruiting athletes from diverse racial and ethnic population and they are also coming from different geographical parts of the country. They’re bringing with them different ways of knowing and doing, and that has added to the dynamics on our teams in terms of promoting togetherness and students being involved in social issues and cultural issues in their communities, on our campuses and in the local Fairbanks community.” Champagne added.
In the NCAA DI legislation, the first Tuesday after November 1 of every year going forward will also be absent of all athletic-related activities.
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