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Four thoughts on the Dartmouth Mens' Basketball unionization campaign

What does this mean for international athletes? For campus labor? And more:

Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.

Last week, the biggest off-the-field news story had nothing to do with Colorado football, conference realignment, or TV networks.

Members of the Dartmouth men’s basketball team filed a petition to unionize, the first D-I program to attempt to do so since Northwestern football in 2014. That attempt, which stretched in 2015, was ultimately unsuccessful, but an awful lot has changed in college athletics since then.

After reading everything I could and asking around a bit, I have four big additional questions for what happens next.

Did campus activism serve as the catalyst?

I didn’t learn about the Dartmouth Union campaign because I got a press release or phone call from a national college athletics advocacy group, collective, or lawyer. I heard about it from seeing a tweet about labor elections and the NLRB website. There was no national, concentrated press campaign.

I say this not to be critical, but that would be different from other college athlete activist efforts in recent memory.

In a recent op-ed in the Dartmouth student newspaper, two members of the team credited labor activism on campus as an “inspiration” for their efforts:

We are inspired by other student workers here on campus. The dining workers and graduate students have unionized, been recognized by the College, and begun good-faith negotiations. Like these other groups of students on campus, we are asserting our right to act collectively. We are also incredibly grateful for the support from Dartmouth’s staff union, SEIU Local 560, and the president of the World Players Association and MLBPA executive director, Tony Clark.

So there’s some national organization assistance here from Tony Clark, but the thrust of the entire op-ed, to me, is an argument to be treated like other student workers, workers who have now organized and unionized at Dartmouth. Library workers, graduate students, and other groups have unionized on campus.

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