A student-led campaign to save Ben Hines Field began this week and has already met strong opposition from administration.
The campaign began on Monday in Davenport Dining Hall where members of the baseball team handed out fliers and asked students to come to their event on Tuesday to sign their petition.
Ben Hines Field, which is used for both baseball and soccer, is slated to be torn down as soon as the baseball season comes to an end in May in order to provide expanded parking for the new dormitory under construction. The baseball team has yet to be notified where it will play and practice next season.
“The petition signing is not just for sports,” said junior pitcher Alan Heide, who put the event together. “It’s so the students have a voice. Things get promised to us and taken away all the time and I’m going to put a stop to it.”
On April 5 Scott Marcus, the team’s graduate assistant, sent an email to students and staff asking for their support and to come out and sign the petition.
Two days later Marcus sent out a retraction email canceling his participation in the event.
“I sent an email out to all of you and believed I was supporting both our baseball program, and the direction of our University in a way that is considered appropriate for an alum (which I am) and a current student (which I am, graduate),” Marus wrote in the April 7 email. “I am also an employee of this University and because of that and much reflection, I believe that I need to withdraw my last email. I respectfully do so. The event mentioned is something I have nothing to do with and therefore is cancelled from my end.”
Heide then decided to take over for Marcus and put the event together.
“For me it all clicked together at the Winter Commencement,” Heide said.
“They were honoring the field and talking about it being torn down. These people dressed in suits and ties were all clapping because our field was being torn down.”
Heide also encountered resistence from University admnistration when he was asked by Provost Greg Dewey to “reconsider” the event.
“I was concerned that he was going down a confrontational, destructive path, when he should be on a constructive path,” Dewey said. “It had the potential to be a divisive event, but it did end up having the aspect of a community event.”
This was not Heide’s only roadblock, when he went to the ULV events office to get the final paperwork cleared, he was notified that someone had canceled the event in his name.
“It’s student body versus the administration at this point,” Heide said. “The student body always loses stuff so that the administration gets money in their pocket.”
Heide also said that many of the flyers he put up in the Athletic Pavilion were taken down, but he doesn’t know by whom.
Despite resistance from the administration, the petition-signing event came together on Tuesday at Ben Hines Field. A total of 326 students and student athletes came out to support the team and to enjoy free food and some recreational fun. Football players, softball players and members of the track team were just a few of the student-athletes there to support the Leopards.
“Baseball players are standing up for themselves and other athletes,” senior football player Cedric Ho said. “They came to La Verne to play baseball and the administration isn’t taking that into consideration. It’s just another slap in the face by the administration.”
“(Heide) is helping to create better lines of communication,” baseball head coach Scott Winterburn said. “Anybody who can do that should be praised.”
Students were hitting tennis balls off of tees, tossing a Frisbee, playing catch and enjoying the sunshine – things they will not be able to do once the field is torn down because Ben Hines Field is one of the few on-campus facilities that can be used for recreational purposes.
The baseball players were spreading the word for their cause while cooking hot dogs and handing out sodas for anyone that came out.
“It’s good to see the students supporting the team,” said Dewey, who attended the Tuesday event. “We’re in a hard position because we’re in a land lock, but we’re already moving on to the residence hall and I think it’s time to move on. The turn out is better than I expected,” Heide said during the event. “I’m happy to see (it). The president can’t ignore the student body standing up like this.”
“No one is arguing about the final outcome,” Dewey said. “The argument is about the way we go about things. We’ll make it right. It will take a little bit of time, but we’ll make it right.”
If the field is torn down as planned, La Verne will only have four teams playing on campus: football, women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball.
SCIAC rival Caltech has 14 on-campus sports teams.
“They’re definitely going to lose enrollment if they keep taking sports away,” junior football player Filip Marcelin said.
“It sucks they’re pushing all the sports off campus,” added junior legal studies major Kristina Granados. “I wouldn’t be surprised or hold it against them if these guys transfer. I think they’ll lose recruits.”
“I didn’t know the field situation coming here,” freshmen pitcher Brian Tuttle said. “It would have definitely factored into my decision.”
Despite the plans to continue with the parking lot, Heide still has hope that with enough support they will be able to save the field, and he is planning more events to gather support.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that nothing is final until the moment it happens,” Heide said.
Elsie Ramos can be reached at email@example.com.