UB swimmers meet with President Satish Tripathi following sit-in
Tripathi agrees to meet with donors about endowment plan after meeting
Members of UB’s swimming and diving program held a sit-in outside President Satish Tripathi’s office Monday, with the goal of having a meeting with Tripathi.
The sit-in began around 12:40 p.m. and student-athletes did homework and played video games while they waited for someone from administration to come out of Tripathi’s office.
Tom Tiberi, director of Campus Life, approached the group of swimmers on the ground floor of Capen prior to the sit-in. He gave the team a flyer entitled “Freedom of Speech and Assembly” outlining proper protest etiquette and what things would not be allowed. The team was also informed police would be present at the sit-in to ensure everyone's safety.
At 1:25 p.m. Chief of Staff Beth Del Genio came outside and told the students two swimmers would be able to speak with Tripathi after he got out of a meeting. They entered his office at 1:35 p.m.
“We have a group of donors with an endowment plan to bring back the team, ” said senior swimmer Callum Liddiard before the sit-in. “We hope this starts the dialogue between the donors and Tripathi.”
Seniors Nicholas Hooper and Reid Zyniecki were the team’s representatives at the 20-minute meeting.
When the athletes came out of the meeting, they were hopeful that they had made progress and that their alumni and donor base would have the opportunity to present their endowment plan to Tripathi.
“[Tripathi] said they were willing to meet and he was willing to talk,” Zyniecki said. “He did specifically say they would be willing to talk [to donors] and I’m confident he’ll stick to his word.”
No concrete date has been scheduled for the meeting between the donors and Tripathi yet.
“I don’t specifically have the numbers, but we let him know the endowment was set up specifically to benefit not only the swimming and diving program but also the university as well,” Zyniecki.
Hooper said Tripathi and Del Genio both spoke throughout the meeting and neither talked more than the other.
“It was pretty even, he spoke more to setting up a meeting and the actual cuts on the team and what went into it while she also spoke about setting up the meeting,” Hooper said. “We kept it very respectful and nice, they said thank you for keeping the sit in very nice and not causing a ruckus which was also our goal the entire time.”
Although both Zyniecki and Hooper did say that Tripathi said he would be willing to meet with the donors and listen to their plan, Zyniecki said he did not feel Tripathi seemed remorseful for his decision.
“I would say remorse would definitely not be something that he showed, it seemed like a decision he believed in and it’s definitely gonna be a tough fight ahead,” Zyniecki said.
Hooper, however, had a different perspective and said Tripathi and Del Genio were “super nice” and “respectful.”
Zyniecki says he also discussed the ethics of the decision and the impact it has on the community.
“We just kind of talked to him about how this impacts more than just the 25 guys on our team, it impacts the swimming community as a whole as well as the across NY state,” Zyniecki said. “UB’s the best swimming school in the state so it has an impact on more than just that.”