Crew faces financial upstream battle
The Daily Targum ran a news article called "Clubs overdue for funding change." It reported that many students are prevented from joining club sports teams because of expensive dues. As a result, the Rutgers University Student Assembly Allocations Board has considered the possibility of funding these organizations through student fees. In order to compensate for the rise in cost, however, student fees would ultimately be increased. While I think it is admirable that RUSA is finally doing something legitimate, it should not be its responsibility to fund these organizations. These clubs, especially the six Olympic sports that were axed in 2007, should be funded through alternative means, even if it has to come out of President Richard L. McCormick's $550,000 salary. Maybe the Rutgers football team can give some of its generated revenue from its last two stellar 8-5 seasons. I was under the impression that the stadium expansion was necessary to solve our financial problems. In order to put this into perspective, it's important to discuss the academic priorities of the University in relation to athletics.
While some football players are playing without any financial incentive, many are here under full scholarships. So, I decided to take my time to research how these students make use of this great opportunity. Through the University database, I was able to find the academic majors of 59 players, as 47 of them were listed as undecided. Of those 59 individuals, the majority were criminal justice majors, as 21 chose this to be the core of their studies. Twenty-eight players were more or less evenly distributed in labor studies, pre-business, communications, economics and history. There was one student majoring in exercise science, as this constituted the only science related major on the team. The rest were scattered amongst other liberal arts majors, such as political science, sociology, journalism and marketing.
With these statistics in mind, I found it appropriate to also research the academic majors of one of the cut Olympic sports teams. I thought the crew team would be best, as we dedicate every touchdown to the words "Up stream, red team." In addition, crew was once the pride and soul of the University, before this institution completely disregarded the value of tradition — and we wonder why no one knows the alma mater. These students are rowing simply because they love the sport. Of the 15 members who declared majors, four were in the School of Engineering while one was in the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy. These two programs require the utmost demand from its students, regardless of their extra-curricular activities. Furthermore, six others also majored in math or science related fields, such as microbiology, biotechnology, marine sciences and ecology. The rest took the liberal arts route, as they dedicated themselves to political science, history, pre-business, psychology and finance. Naturally, I gathered information from a much smaller pool of athletes, but it should not discount the fact that crew members take themselves very seriously inside and outside of the classroom.
Let it be clear. I am in no way discrediting the academic ability of the football team, as I am also a liberal arts major myself. But it is hard to make the argument that criminal justice research methods are more rigorous than organic chemistry. I support University football, and I am not saying it should not exist, but these club sports constitute a very small percentage of the entire football budget. If we are going to give full scholarships to the football players then the least we can do is provide sufficient funding for these organizations. Furthermore, we should even go as far as to re-instituting the six Olympic sports. These individuals have proven to be outstanding student-athletes, and they work just as hard, if not harder, than football players. It's time the University started taking notice. As seen by their dedication, members of these clubs, especially the crew team, also probably have the most University pride. In the long term, they are the ones who will actually respond to the incessant phone calls and letters about donations. On the other hand, if the University does not ensure their happiness, it will never see a cent of the relatively high paying salaries of these future doctors, pharmacists and engineers. Our focus should be on improving student life now so future alumni leave with a very good impression. As I see it, our pathetic $500 million endowment cannot get any worse, but I've been wrong many times before.
It is imperative that the University gets its priorities straight with athletics and academics. The financial statuses of these clubs are in limbo, in which adequate funding for the six former varsity sports will be gone in 2010 and 2011. With exception of three hour labs, these students will have nothing else to look forward to. I guess we can look on the bright side. They can see the University face-off in December against some Conference USA team in the worthless St. Petersburg Bowl. At that point, maybe we can use all $1 million dollars earned from our bowl win to help pay for these club sports. Problem solved.
Brian Canares is a Rutgers College senior majoring history and political science. His column, "Pure Rubbish," runs on alternate Tuesdays. He welcomes feedback at email@example.com.