Who’s the Outcast Now: The line drawn between athletes and students at Seton Hill becomes finer

  It’s lunchtime at Seton Hill University (SHU) and a surge of students floods the dining hall. The tables boasting athletes stand out in bright red, and now, as SHU gears up for its NCAA Division II spring athletic season, it’s clear that the NCAA isn’t the only one assigning divisions on campus

The most common division at SHU is arguably between athletes and regular students.

    “I thought people would try to make friends with everybody, then separate into their own groups or teams,” said Chris Lacava, a freshman on the track team.

    Lacava said he wasn’t surprised by this behavior at SHU because it reflects the social structure of his high school—especially in the cafeteria.

     “I see …people frantically texting their friends to see if they will go eat with them,” said sophomore golf player Giannina Gonzalez. “They always seem to want to be with friends, not join a table and make some [new] friends.”

   The issue, sophomore DJ Beckage says, may be the way that athletes socialize among their teammates.

    “ …There is such an emphasis on the team dynamic, athletes may not be as willing to hang out with non-athletes,” said Beckage, a commuter and veteran of the military. “With that said, I think non-athletes become intimidated of this same dynamic and therefore do not attempt to make friends with someone in the group.”

    Some athletes, like senior Anthony DiPerna, admit to involvement in this dynamic.

     “I’m not really friends with many people that aren’t athletes,” said DiPerna, a lacrosse player for the entirety of his studies at SHU. “There absolutely is segregation.”

    The division between athletes and regular students is widening further as a result of the Internet.

    “Celebrate #narpweek,” tweeted junior lacrosse player Jon Macurak on the social networking website, Twitter. “NARP”, a condescending acronym meaning ‘non-athletic regular person’ was popularized by Urban Dictionary, a slang dictionary website called and is commonly thrown around by athletes.

“Group projects… My group always hates me because I don’t have any free time to meet up,” tweeted StudntAthlPrbz, a Twitter account dedicated to the problems that student athletes face—many of which attempt to foster contempt for regular students who don’t encounter similar situations.

    “The stuff they post is so funny and true,” said Anthony Peluso, a freshman on the track team. “It definitely makes me jealous of people who don’t play a sport.”

    Because of websites like Urban Dictionary and Twitter accounts like StudntAthlPrbz, athletes are being influenced to look down on regular students, polluting SHU’s social atmosphere with ethnocentrism.

    “Athletes think they’re better than people who aren’t, for sure,” said junior Dominic Camasso, captain of the cross-country team. “Just like some theatre people might think they’re better than athletes. It’s a trade-off.”

    As the captain of the cross-country team, it is Camasso’s responsibility to introduce the freshman runners to SHU life.

    “I haven’t really seen them hang out with people outside the team, even after how many months,” Camasso said. “But that’s just normal for us… athletes are obligated to each other.”

    However, not all SHU students stick to one group of friends.

    Matthew Takacs, a junior, says that he has a mix of friends—both athletes and non-athletes. “It’s easier to be friends with more people when you’re not forced to bond with the same ones all the time,” he said.

    Unfortunately, athletes are also bonded to stereotypes, expanding the invisible rift at SHU further.

    “I sense that rift-size varies depending on the sport. For instance, football strikes me as higher profile,” said David Von Schlichten, an adjunct professor of religious studies. “In that case, the rift is greater, in part because people tend to have stereotypes about football players.”

    Von Schlichten says that being an adjunct professor limits how much he sees of the separation between athletes and non-athletes; however, he has noticed some stereotypes come into play.

    “I just heard a professor say that five students are failing his class, and they are all football players. The professor seemed to be assuming that they were all failing because of their involvement with football,” Von Schlichten said. “Such an assumption struck me as unfair and perhaps rooted in prejudice against athletes.”

     Although academic prejudice may be a player in the separation of athletes and non-athletes, most colleges are prided on the excellence of their athletic programs.

    “Athletics are hyped up at every college,” said Camasso. “Athletes have special privileges and they’re treated like they’re different.”

    However, is the separation between athletes and non-athletes always a bad thing?

    “It seems [like a bad thing], but that is kind of a good sign,” said Giannina Gonzalez. “It means teams are very close.”

     The dichotomy between athletes and non-athletes is present, but that doesn’t mean that SHU students are bound by it. SHU provides a plethora of activities for regular students and athletes alike to make friends and create lasting memories—all it takes is the first step past the invisible boundary that separates athletes from everyone else.

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