At every college campus under the NCAA, an elected group of student-athletes make up an organization known as the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). This organization is an integral part of the experience for many student-athletes, as it tends to serve as a representational voice for them.
Per the NCAA’s website, the core mission of SAAC is “to enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete welfare and fostering a positive student-athlete image.”
Albion’s SAAC previously focused on community service. Many events, such as the annual Winter Carnival, have given student-athletes the opportunity to connect with Albion community members and make a positive impact.
This year, Albion’s SAAC is shifting focus. Whereas the program has usually been more focused on the town of Albion itself, this year’s executive board decided to play more of an advocacy role for student-athletes. Many other SAACs in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association share this structure as well.
“Since SAAC has previously put so much time into the community, we wanted to take some of that energy and work and put it back into our programs,” explained SAAC president Katie Ferrero. “We just want to gain a better experience for student-athletes on campus.”
The decision for this shift came after a recent student-athlete survey created by SAAC, in which many participants voiced their desire for higher attendance at their respective athletic events as well as for more advocacy around campus issues such as meal portions. The results prompted SAAC executive board members to create more internally based service opportunities for Albion athletic programs.
For example, whereas most teams on campus previously required a mandatory set of community services, Albion’s SAAC executive voted to translate these hours into activities like mandatory attendance at games, matches or meets.
As for the former SAAC structure, the relationship between community members and athletes will remain through events like the Winter Carnival and youth clinics.
Ferrero believes that all student-athletes will truly benefit from these changes.
“We want to continue the support and energy we’ve given to Albion, while also making our student-athletes feel supported by their own campus,” she explained. “Focusing on [student-athletes] and creating more of a community in the athletic department is our biggest goal for the year.”
So far, SAAC is working with Bon Appétit, Albion College’s food service, to offer better services and food to reflect student-athlete’s nutritional needs. It is also a key member of Albion’s Green Dot, a bystander training program meant to help prevent sexual assault.
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