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Nadkarni: Welcome to another day at Northwestern

Rohan Nadkarni, Reporter

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Maybe Deadspin can get off our backs now?

Kain Colter announced Tuesday that he and many of the players on the Northwestern football team will attempt to unionize in order to bargain for better medical care and guaranteed scholarships for collegiate athletes.

The move was strategic, well thought out and reverberated throughout the country. Yes, that was Colter you saw on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” defending his and his teammates’ actions.

As students, we should recognize a group of our own fighting for what they believe is an injustice. It’s why we chose Northwestern and what our professors, administrators and president push us to do every single day — make an impact in this world.

This is why I’m prouder than ever to say I go to school with Colter and every other student who signed that petition.

It’s not the first time students at this school fought for change, and it won’t be the last.

When students wanted to recognize John Evans’ role in the Sand Creek massacre, our administration formed a committee to look into it. Heck, when Associated Student Government boldly complained about poor shuttle services in The Daily, the University responded the next day with more shuttles.

NU’s attempt to unionize is a complicated issue. Not everyone loves unions. And the battle will be fought in courts for many years. But the group’s ideas are noble and more than reasonable.

Basically, the players are fighting for better medical care, scholarships that cover the entire cost of attendance and protection for injured players in good academic standing.

Many of these problems aren’t present at our school, which was noted by Colter and several former players I spoke to today. That shows that this fight is truly about all athletes and future generations.

The focus now turns to Coach Pat Fitzgerald and Athletic Director Jim Phillips.

Fitzgerald tweeted support for Colter’s actions Tuesday. Phillips released a statement with support for the group’s goals but said he did not agree with unionizing as the right way to achieve those goals.

That’s not enough for me.

It says a lot that the team had to conduct this behind the backs of Fitzgerald and Phillips. It means the team knew they would not have the full support of the University.

That begs the question — will the school leave its players to fight for themselves?

I’m sure Fitzgerald and Phillips were blindsided by the news like the rest of us and will need time to educate themselves and take a position. They are currently saying the right things publicly, no doubt aided by their public relations team.

But I want to see them fully support players fighting for a just cause. The NCAA is a corrupt system that generates billions off the backs of players, and a scholarship is a drop-in-the-bucket expense.

I believe 100 percent that our fellow students are fighting for the right thing. This isn’t just another angsty move from a liberal private school. So I challenge our athletic leaders to guide and aid our students to accomplish their goal.

And once again, I commend Colter for breaking down that invisible barrier between student and athlete.

Because when I heard a group of students at our school was taking a bold stand against injustice, I thought, welcome to another day at Northwestern.

Email: rohannadkarni2015@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @Rohan_NU

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