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Dartmouth basketball players reflect on historic union vote

Izaiah Robinson, guard for the Big Green makes the first score of the game.
Olivia Richardson
Izaiah Robinson, guard for the Big Green, makes the first score of their game against Harvard on March 5.

The Dartmouth men’s basketball team scored two big victories Tuesday: They voted to form the nation's first college athlete's union and, hours later, won their final home game of the season against Harvard.

Tuesday night's match was neck and neck throughout the first half. But Dartmouth rallied and eventually won 76 to 69.

After the game, players said their union vote was heavy on their mind. But so were other more mundane concerns, like studying for finals.

Sophomore forward Jackson Munro said he was happy with the outcome of their historic union vote, especially after how hard everyone worked.

Looking forward, he said their goal is simple: “We want to be paid." And by that, he said, the players deserve to earn monetary wages.

Many of the players expressed that being part of a Division 1 team meant they worked hard on the court and at practice, but also with their grades. Several also held down side jobs at the alumni gym or the food court. And without access to scholarships, outside of need-based aid, some of them take on additional work.

Up in the stands Tuesday, fellow Dartmouth student Buga Hassan was among the fans who turned out to cheer on the Big Green.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Hassan said of the players’ union effort. “Hopefully it works out for our team, and I’m behind whatever they stand for.”

The union vote didn't pass unanimously — 13 of the 15 players voted yes. But Robert McRae III, a senior guard, said all of the players supported each other regardless of their feelings on the union.

“To be able to go out there and vote today, and do what we did and technically make history, and then come in here today and get the win and still be focused for that is huge,” he said. “So I commend my teammates.”

The players’ fight for collective bargaining rights is far from over. Shortly after the vote Tuesday afternoon, the Dartmouth board of trustees filed a motion challenging the National Labor Relations Board’s decision to allow the players’ election to proceed — setting up the potential for a longer battle for recognition.

But for now, the players said they're proud of their growth and being able to give their seniors a final good game.

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Olivia joins us from WLVR/Lehigh Valley Public Media, where she covered the Easton area in eastern Pennsylvania. She has also reported for WUWM in Milwaukee and WBEZ in Chicago.

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