Controversy shames university
Letter to the editor
Another scandalous story. University students are starting to become inured to seeing the name of their university splashed around in the press almost always associated with some negative story. Is this a fault of the University Office of Media Relations? Perhaps. Is it a string of bad luck? Probably not. I think that it is most likely a problem that the University administration has created as a result of its policy choices and the undue attention that it has devoted to athletics.
The administration has been trying for years to develop a national brand for the University as an athletic powerhouse. Doing so, they claim, will increase alumni funding, will draw more resources and talented students and faculty — and generally increase the prestige of the University. Moves like joining the Big Ten, renovating the football stadium and planned renovations of the Rutgers Athletic Center all have such aims. As a student who does not participate in athletics, I have felt my academic opportunities have been short-changed by this misguided policy. Athletes have been more recognized and better supported by the administration than scholars.
These efforts have had the desired impact of increasing media attention, yet none of it has recognized the positive impact that the University has on the community. As an alternative spring break, University students participated in Sandy relief efforts — with no positive press results. The administration’s decision to orient the University toward athletics has brought more scrutiny upon us, but has brought no meaningful benefit to University students or the University at large.
To truly generate positive impact and position the University as a prestigious institution, investing in academics and supporting scholarly endeavors with the same zest that they have recently devoted to athletic endeavors would serve the administration better. Alumni should be encouraged to support academics rather than athletics to support scholarships and academic resources. The University should try to brand itself as a community that will provide an innovative, demanding and well-rounded education, not just an athletic experience. Instead of covering up for athletic scandals, University President Robert L. Barchi may wish to consider a more sustainable and respectable path for the University’s future. Perhaps such a shift will allow us to finally draw some positive media attention.
Sabrina Arias is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science and philosophy with minors in Spanish and jewish studies.