Seminary field confusion clarified

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The field that lies between UD and Holy Trinity Seminary is available for students' use. Photo by Samuel Curran.

In response to recent confusion about use of the field shared between the University of Dallas and Holy Trinity Seminary (HTS), UD administration has reiterated that students are free to use the field, even though clubs are not currently able to reserve it.

In recent months, questions have arisen regarding who owns the field and whether the field can be used by UD students.

In a Dec. 2 “Little Known Facts” article, The University News quoted Provost Dr. Jonathan Sanford as saying that the field near the seminary was owned by the university.

In January, Seminary Rector Father James Swift wrote to The University News that the field is, in fact, shared between the seminary and UD.

In a recent interview, Sanford clarified his earlier statement.

“We’ve always known that we owned something like 75 percent of the field,” Sanford said, adding that if he had said that UD owned the entire field, that information was “inaccurate.”

In an interview, Interim President Dr. John Plotts said that though UD and HTS share ownership of the field, “UD owns the majority of the field,” while, “to their credit, [HTS] generously maintains [the field].”

According to the Dallas Central Appraisal District website, the field is split along the middle between UD and HTS property. UD General Counsel Karin Rilley wrote in an email that HTS “only owns approximately 30 percent of the field.” She added that “the percentage is not exact.”

With the field ownership split, clubs are currently unable to reserve it for events on the Forum, said Residence Coordinator for Clubs and Organizations Jasmine Simmons. However, both students and clubs are allowed to use the field as needed.

According to Sanford, representatives from HTS and UD administration will meet in the future to “sort out” usage of the field.

In a recent email, Swift declined to comment on the issue, stating he wished to speak with his advisory board in addition to “the new president once he has had a chance to get settled in,” regarding the details of managing the shared field.

Simmons wrote in an email that she reached out to HTS about using the field in September “while coordinating between club and rec sports.”

In response to Simmons’ request, Vice Rector Father Anthony Lackland wrote a letter in Sept. 2018 to Simmons stating that the field was unavailable for use due to the “close proximity” of the field to the construction site for the Cardinal Farrell Student Center.

“Hopefully this summer there will be an opportunity for the administration of both institutions to meet and discuss any future concerns regarding ‘the Seminary field,’ ” Lackland wrote in the letter.

This construction at the seminary is now complete, according to Director of Student Affairs Seth Oldham.

When asked about the UD-HTS field in February, Lackland said that he was not well-informed about the issue and referred all questions to Swift.

“I don’t know why Jasmine [Simmons] contacted the seminary in the first place,” Sanford said. “She was probably unaware that the majority of the field was owned by us, so it’s not the sort of thing where we should have had to ask permission for.”

Rugby Club captain Peter Whisenant wrote that when the rugby team used the field for practice due to a conflict on the MacNab Rugby Pitch in Oct. 2018, he was told by a seminarian that the club “should have contacted the seminary first to get permission to use it.”

Sanford said that he was unaware of the letter until January, when Simmons and Oldham brought the matter to his attention, following a request from Ultimate Frisbee (UDU) club president Abby Thorpe to investigate whether the field was available for the club’s use.

Rugby Club president Angelo Novello wrote in a message that the Rugby Club had also reached out to OSA regarding the field in January.

The question of the field is a “conundrum,” Plotts acknowledged in an interview, but said that he hopes that the two institutions can “come to a mutual scheduling [agreement].”

Sanford said that UD students should “go ahead and use the field,” echoing Plotts’ statement that the students should “use it whenever they want.”

Sitting in her student apartment, where frisbees hang side-by-side with the Italian flag, Thorpe explained that limited field space restricts UDU’s potential to both practice and compete.

In order to host last weekend’s “Greatest Crusade V” tournament, Thorpe said, the club had to rent athletics fields from the Cistercian Abbey in addition to booking the MacNab Rugby Pitch due to a lack of space on campus and the club’s inability to use the athletic fields.

Thorpe said she has hopes to enlarge the tournament next year for a total of 16 competing teams.

A larger tournament, Thorpe said, is about more than creating a better bracket. “It means…more exposure for the club and for the school,” in addition to increased revenue for the club, she said.

“Next year is my last year [to run the tournament],” Thorpe added. “So if I had another field next year … I could plan a bigger event.”

Thorpe added that if the field is the right size and open for use, the number of conflicts between Recreational Sports, Rugby and UDU for use of the MacNab Rugby Pitch would be diminished.

“We have very few facilities as it is,” Thorpe said.

But UDU captain senior Sterling Daniels wrote in a message that the field “will not work as a primary field … without lights.”

Novello expressed similar concerns, noting the continued conflicts between UDU, Rugby Club and Recreational Sports.

“I think that field should be the go-to field for rec sports,” Novello wrote.

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