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Keep Varsity Athletics at Stanford University

This petition had 7,329 supporters

In an open letter to the community dated July 8, 2020, members of Stanford University's administration, including President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Provost Persis Drell, and Director of Athletics Bernard Muir, have demoted 11 sports from Varsity status, thus leaving the athletic careers of over 240 student athletes in limbo. Additionally, approximately 20 staff positions of Stanford Athletics will be eliminated as well. Following the conclusion of the 2020-2021 academic year, the coaches and athletes of men's and women's fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men's rowing, co-ed and women's sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men's volleyball and wrestling will no longer be considered part of Stanford University's Varsity Athletics program. What this means is that these teams will no longer receive funding, training opportunities, or be able to represent Stanford University at national and international athletic competitions.

This move follows a disturbing trend of colleges removing varsity athletics opportunities in the name of budget cuts. Indeed, Stanford Administration claims that supporting 36 varsity teams, the greatest number of varsity teams of any Division I school, is a "serious and growing financial challenge." However, financial challenges cannot discount the hard work that many athletes have put into furthering their athletics careers - many from a young age. For example, athletes from the varsity sports that will be cut include many that have gone on to win Olympic medals (Stanford University is the school with the most number of Olympic medals at the time of this writing). Each and every one of Stanford's athletes earned their right to participate on a varsity team due to their hard work. It is unfortunate that administration has completely over-sighted this hard work in favor of less spending on athletics.

For a school that is considered by many to be one of the top athletics universities in the country, this move is a huge deal of disappointment. The teams that will be cut are composed of fantastic athletes, world-class coaches, and league-leading titles. Stanford's athletes are not a means for you to play around with your revenue. They are here to learn and become leaders in not only their sport, but leaders of the world as well. 

It's difficult to fathom that Stanford University does not have the money to continue these varsity programs - far from it. Stanford University consistently boasts one of the largest endowments across all higher education institutions. Additionally, we must not neglect the fact that Stanford Athletics is comprised of a diverse student body, with students from diverse ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses. By signing with this petition, you stand with all Stanford Athletes in solidarity for a more equitable future in varsity athletics at the collegiate level.

Stanford, do better. Give your varsity athletes the opportunities that they deserve. Present them with the resources that they need to grow and become whatever they desire to become.

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