“Study Ties Oregon Successes To Students Slacking” Response

There was an article published by the AP today which stated the following:
 In a new paper, the economists at the University of Oregon chart the grade point averages of students there alongside the fortunes of the football team between 1999 and 2007. Their findings could give ammo to critics of big-time college sports.

Their conclusion: When the Ducks were winning, students celebrated more and grades suffered. And that doesn’t bode well for upcoming report cards — the Ducks are 11-2 this season, Pac-12 champions for the third straight year, and headed to the Rose Bowl.

OK. I’ll give them that. If that’s what the study shows, that’s what it shows. What bothers me about the article comes, once again, from the brilliant and open mind of ASUO President Ben Eckstein:

   “It’s consistent with the culture on campus and the culture at this university where a stronger emphasis is put on athletic success than on academic success,” Eckstein said. Though a fan himself, he says the university’s financial and building priorities favor sports facilities over academics, and “there’s a lack of focus on connecting our athletic success to our academic mission” which trickles down to students. 

So according to our extremely misguided student leader, this is happening because the UO gives too much money towards athletics and not enough to academics. Excuse me while I do my best Weekend Update-Seth Meyers imitation..

REALLY!? Really, Ben? Student GPA is dropping due to going to games and having too much fun after them? They are dropping because weekend homework assignments are going by the wayside when there is a football game on. That has nothing to do with funding. That has to do with students not being fully engaged in the classes they are taking. I’ll be the first to admit it. I’d rather talk about football or watch a REPLAY of a game than sit in an ECON or Science class (two classes which have nothing to do with my major and I just need for GenEd credits). Maybe this issue isn’t about funding at all, and maybe you should stop trying to find ways to attack a department which actually brings in millions of dollars in revenue and tuition money for the University, which, by the way, helps to pay for things you take for granted (free tickets to sporting events, wireless internet), as well as things you may appreciate (the EMU, the Emerald, your Professors salary, buildings and classrooms).

“Well the Jaqua Center is for student athletes only and I’m not allowed in.” FALSE. You’re allowed in. They even have classes in the first floor classroom for us “normal” folks. It’s even a great place to study. The cafe is usually quiet, and you can grab a quick lunch in the meantime.

President Eckstein…Ben…at the end of the day football (and athletics in general) are just a scapegoat for everyone involved. For students who are genuinely not interested in certain classes, they can turn on a football game and forget about the paper they still need to write. For you and the rest of the ASUO, you don’t have a mission. You think you are trying to help the greater good of the UO by blaming overspending on athletics and underspending on academics. Maybe the greater issue is a failure to inspire.

If the overall GPA of the student body is dropping, maybe the UO needs to talk to their faculty. Take the “boring” subjects and make them interesting.

Maybe the UO needs to talk to their students. If you choose to celebrate victories, remember why you are here and remember that you are paying for those classes you’re failing.

Maybe the UO needs to talk to their ASUO President. Stop blaming things on a department which has no control over the issue you are blaming them for.

Rob Mullens and Chip Kelly aren’t making students fail classes. Students are choosing to do that on their own.
EDIT: The ASUO (and President Eckstein himself) has greater things to worry about. Instead of blaming the Athletic Department for anything and everything, maybe they should worry about lowering tuition, fixing the EMU, or working to make campus a safer place or all student, staff, faculty, and visitors.

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