Tuesday, December 8, 2020

URSP Student Michala Conroy Studies Beliefs and Perceptions Surrounding Student Athletes and Dance Majors

My name is Michala Conroy and I am a junior studying Dance with a Pre-Medicine track at George Mason University (GMU). As a dance major at a liberal arts university, that is heavily invested in its athletics department, I get a unique glance into the inequality that exists between sports and the arts. During this pandemic, I have been in awe with how artists have responded to the loss of their jobs and livelihood with hope and selflessness. Professional dancers have been offering a plethora of free online classes, and many dance companies and Broadway shows are presenting their works online for everybody to view for free. This response has shown me just how important the arts and dance are in our world.

 My research analyzes the inequality surrounding the School of Dance (SoD) and the Athletics Department (AD) and explores the social boundaries between the athletes and the dance majors. To accomplish this task, I set up interviews with dance majors and students unaffiliated with either department. The interviews are taking place virtually and investigate the perceptions each group holds of the other group and the boundaries that are created between the groups.

 During the process of gaining IRB approval for my research questions, I was informed that to conduct research with student athletes I must gain separate approval from the Deputy Athletic Director. This was not a requirement for the other GMU students participating in the research. I discovered how differently the athletes are protected by the university compared to other students unaffiliated with athletics.

I hope to continue this research project and find a way to incorporate the student athletes along with athletic trainers from the AD and the SoD, athletic coaches, professors both from the dance department and other departments. I would like to investigate the beliefs and perceptions that people in charge of the students hold about both departments.