Oct 30, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterBoth candidates running to represent the Wind River Indian Reservation on the Central Wyoming College Board of Trustees said students get more out of local athletic programming than entertainment and exercise.
David "Grundy" Snyder said sporting events are opportunities for the school to reach out to the community while also providing a venue for local residents to support CWC students.
"(They give) the community as a whole a team to get behind," Snyder said last week during a forum at Central Wyoming College. "Right now we have high school programs, that's it."
He pointed out that many people drive hundreds of miles from Fremont County to Laramie for University of Wyoming football games.
"That's how much pride we have in teams here," Snyder said. "Teams build a lot of character and definitely add value to any institution."
CWC's basketball, volleyball and rodeo programs also draw out-of-state enrollment to the college, which Snyder said adds diversity to the student body.
"People come in and live in our community to be able to understand how we live, and hopefully take something away from here," Snyder said.
Carlton Underwood's answer had more to do with the positive effect athletics can have on student success.
"I do have a more academic inclination," Underwood said. "But I think the value of sports and athletics shouldn't be overlooked."
He spoke about his own experience at schools on the reservation, where athletic participation is an important part of community life.
"When I was a freshman, I didn't perform well -- my grades weren't A's and B's," Underwood said. "But after joining basketball and track I actually improved my grades. I stayed with it all through high school. So I think it does have a bearing on that person's ability (and) desire to get better and continue in achieving."
Both candidates shared differing priorities when asked about specific plans to improve service to students in the coming years. Snyder said more work needs to be done when it comes to online classes and outreach to older students with irregular schedules.
"Being a student at CWC, there were a lot of classes I couldn't take because I worked full time and was a member of two boards," Snyder said. "Online offerings give students like myself, that are working and providing for a family, the opportunity to go to school to improve ourselves."
Underwood wants to see an increase in CWC's student completion rate, which he said was 33 percent this year.
"I think that's great, but we should never stop striving to reach for more," Underwood said. "We need to put a stronger effort into getting all the students to complete their degrees."
If elected, Underwood said he would serve as a role model for young tribal members.
"I want to try to encourage them to be a little more aggressive in pursuing higher education," he said.
Snyder also would serve as an advocate for the reservation.
"Being able to bring our heritage into the school would be something I'd like to make sure we promote," he said.
Candidates for the board represent four different subdistricts in the county, but all Fremont County voters may cast ballots in each area.
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