Contradicting rumors, NU athletes purchase their own mopeds


Illustration by Hank Yang

Mopeds have become a hot topic among NU students on social media platforms like Instagram.

Nicole Markus, Reporter

Despite a common misconception among Northwestern students, most athletes purchase mopeds themselves, Weinberg junior and women’s soccer player Rowan Lapi said.

However, student-athletes on full athletic scholarship receive a monthly stipend, which she said can be used to purchase a moped. In an email to The Daily, Athletic Communications confirmed that those on full athletic scholarship receive a monthly stipend for personal expenses. 

“Considering Instagram accounts made, and just overall distaste, I feel that most people either feel that athletes are just lazy… or they’re just annoyed because of mopeds zipping in and out,” Lapi said. “Most people definitely don’t know that we actually buy them.”

Mopeds have become a hot topic among NU students on social media platforms like Instagram. On the site, students have created new anonymous accounts like @numopedsupremacy and @nopedsnu as ways to sound off about mopeds.

Some of the discourse about mopeds concerns NU’s perceived special treatment towards athletes, Communication sophomore Fiona Byrne said.

Byrne said she has taken issue with funding in athletics programs before she arrived at NU. Northwestern has prioritized new athletic initiatives in recent years, including spending $270 million on building the Ryan Fieldhouse and the Walter Athletics Center and a recent $480 million donation from Patrick Ryan (Kellogg ’59) and Shirley Ryan (Weinberg ’61) , much of which will go toward rebuilding Ryan Field. 

“I’ve been kind of anti-sports funding since high school,” Byrne said. “As much as we laugh about it, it does really feel like a slap in the face that (athletes) are athletically able people and they’re the ones getting mobility aids.”

Byrne said she didn’t know that athletes purchased their own mopeds, but felt less angry after learning they did. 

For her, the tension surrounding athletics extends beyond just the moped debate and relates more to how athletes are treated compared to the rest of students. She said it’s “not completely fair” when NU prioritizes athletes over other students. 

Medill freshman Ella Skaar said she believes NU prioritizes athletes over non-athletes. As someone who grew up around the Southeastern Conference where sports are heavily prioritized, she said she isn’t surprised by the culture. 

Skaar said she did not know that athletes buy their own mopeds, but the knowledge makes her feel better. Unlike NU, Skaar said some of the schools she grew up around gift mopeds to athletes.

Lapi said some athletes buy their mopeds secondhand from older athletes who sell them upon graduating. 

Mopeds are a convenient way for athletes to quickly get from place to place and are especially helpful for students living off-campus, she said. 

“Sophomore year, a couple of my friends and I moved off campus because of COVID-19, and we still had to be (around campus),” Lapi said. “We ended up deciding to get mopeds… instead of buying a car… especially because we didn’t know what was happening with COVID-19.”

NU is not the only school where athletes use mopeds. Weinberg sophomore and football player Jack Olsen, who transferred from Michigan State, bought his moped before he attended NU. He said most students at MSU had mopeds because of the campus’ large size.

Although nobody has given her a hard time, Lapi said she understands why the mopeds around campus annoy non-athletes. 

She said she tries to give rides to her friends who are not athletes to help them get around more easily. However, anyone who wants to can purchase a moped to use around campus.

“There’s nothing stopping anyone else from getting a moped,” Lapi said. “It’s all this big social construct of being an athlete… like that we get handed things, that’s the most frustrating part.”

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Twitter: @nicolejmarkus

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