Dear spring-season student-athletes and families,
In recent days, many of you have written to share your thoughts about if and how we should participate in spring sports. Although we will not make and announce a decision until next week, we are writing now to provide an update on our thinking.
We recognize that athletics is an important part of the Union experience for the student-athletes who participate and a joy for those of us who love to watch. Union’s commitment to athletics is long and proud; supporting athletics is an essential element of our Strategic Plan. It is core to our vision of developing every student to lead with wisdom, empathy, and courage, in ways large and small, now and across multiple tomorrows.
COVID first appeared on our campus almost a year ago. We have been consistent that both our core mission and the safety of our community must guide our decisions as we navigate the pandemic. With respect to intercollegiate athletics, we must consider not only what happens on the courts, fields and other venues, but also everything associated with travel and spectating.
We have committed to making an announcement about spring sports next week. This will follow a final consultation with our Liberty League colleagues. We want to be clear that we have not yet made a decision.
Lastly, please know that we value the perspectives of all members of our community -- including those who are strong proponents of competing this spring and those who feel that doing so would be inconsistent with keeping our community safe.
In a recent op-ed about lessons from the pandemic, President Harris described his approach to challenging deliberations and decisions like this one:
“A long time ago, I learned that in difficult situations -- and COVID-19 is the most difficult one I have faced -- you’ll rarely find a path that makes everyone happy. That recognition drives me to select the path that I believe will benefit the most people and harm the fewest."
Whatever we announce next week, we are confident that there will be people who disagree. The measure of success will be that we are doing what is right for Union, and that we are clear about the rationale for our decisions. We thank you for your patience.
David Harris, President
Strom Thacker, Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Jim McLaughlin ’93, Director of Athletics