NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Smith College will be changing its equestrian program from an official team sport to a club sport, and some alumnae are unhappy about this change.
Students will still be able to ride and compete, but Smith will no longer operate an on-campus horse barn. College spokesperson Stacey Schmeidel said the Department of Athletics and Recreation made the decision after two years of consideration.
They said that caring for the horses was complex, and that fewer students are interested in horseback riding.
Smith alumna Jess Palaez told 22News that the on-campus riding facility provided access to riding for all students; not just members of the equestrian team.
Smith student Subashini Sridhar said that she found value in the riding class.
“I had never ridden a horse, I just wanted a beginner’s class, and it was a good introduction. It wasn’t fully immersive, but it just got me near a horse,” Sridhar said.
Palaez complains that college administrators made the decision without consulting alumnae, students, or community donors.
More than 1,000 people have signed a petition to “Save Smith Equestrian” in just over a week.