The Occidental Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) hosted an Athlete’s Formal Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Marketplace with more than 400 students in attendance, according to SAAC leadership.
After researching events hosted by SAAC at other colleges and universities, the organization settled on hosting a formal. E-Board members and seniors Tiareh Cruz, Will Nahmens, Walker Marks, Mirei Yasuda and Matt Munet considered the event a success. ASOC Senate and the Athletic Department provided funding for the formal, with a cover charge for students who attended.
“We wanted to do something for athletes to kind of give back and show appreciation for the work that we put in at this school because there’s a lot of stuff we do that people don’t notice,” Marks (senior) said.
According to Nahmens, event logistics were the largest hurdle during the planning process. While initially hoping to host the formal off campus, budgetary and liability issues pushed SAAC to relocate the event to the Marketplace. Plans of including a beer garden at the event were also jilted due to external factors such as precautions taken during the final stages of Occidental receiving a liquor license.
“The real issue is we’ve never done this before. We haven’t really done anything ever that means something for athletes,” Nahmens said.
Four-year tennis player, Hannah Cohen (senior) agreed that it was nice to have a social event that created a sense of community across sports.
“There are so many athletes on Oxy’s campus and most of us go to each others’ games or matches but the formal was special because we don’t really have spaces or moments that bring us all together,” Cohen said.
SAAC was adopted at the 1989 NCAA Convention with the mission to review and offer student-athlete input on NCAA activities and propose legislation that affects student-athletes. In recent years, Occidental’s SAAC members have expressed an interest in becoming more involved as a student organization on campus. Last year, after learning their account had been eliminated due to lack of usage, SAAC reapplied for student organization status through ASOC in order to apply for funding.
The current makeup of SAAC is predominately upperclassmen; with all e-board members graduating in May, Nahmens mentioned the need to get more underclassmen involved.
“Hopefully we’ve set out enough of a framework for future SAAC leaders,” Nahmens said.
Contrary to the more sports-dominated cultures of many Division I schools, Nahmens views the role of SAAC at a Division III school to be an organization that provides academic and personal support to student-athletes.
The formal’s higher attendance also contributed to generating an operational budget for SAAC, broadening the possibilities for future events. In addition to the formal, SAAC leaders expressed interest in expanding outreach through community service, beer garden events before sporting events and providing networking opportunities with athletic alumni.