Saskatchewan Polytechnic has blown the final whistle on its sports programs to make way for what they’re calling a more holistic “Wellness Strategy.” The decision signals the demise of sports teams across their various campuses including the Wild men’s volleyball team, which was based at Prince Albert Campus.
Having conducted a review of their sports and recreation programming, which included studying trends at other institutions, Provost Dr. Anne Neufeld said the school's administrators wanted to ensure their resources were being used efficiently.
“Over the course of this last academic year we had about 110 students participating in our athletics program,” Neufeld told paNOW. “As important as it may be, that represents less than one per cent of the student population.”
Neufeld said administrators took a look at the resources invested in sports and recreation and wanted to maximize the benefits to support the greatest number of students and employees. The resources could be put to good use through mental health programming, Neufeld suggested, or by offering addictions and nutritional support to both staff and students.
The students' union will be involved in the conversation on the new strategy, Neufeld emphasized, and there will still be physical activities such as intramural sports and some sort of continued use of the gyms.
Despite promises of inclusion in the upcoming conversation, the Saskatchewan Polytechnic Students Association said they were taken aback by the decision, which appeared to come out of the blue.
“Students are really, really unhappy,” Association President Justin Skwark told paNOW.
Skwark questioned the recent review by administration, noting 93 per cent of students surveyed in 2014/15 said they were happy with recreation services.
"I’d like to see the results of their recent review," he said.
The athletics programs were not only meant to provide an outlet and help recruit top athletes, he said. The programs were also meant to provide a sense of community, and the decision to cut the programs appeared to go against the college's own teachings.
“There’s a recreation and community development program out of Saskatoon where they teach students the importance of all of this,” he said, “and yet they discontinue it altogether.”
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