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UNCG students are being taken for a ride with the latest fee increases

People come to this university for academics, not athletics

By [Strong College student] Scott Thomason

Greensboro News & Record, 2 March 1997

As a UNCG student, I have been very pleased with the coverage the News & Record has given to the controversial decisions made and fee increases ordered by the board of trustees in order to build a baseball stadium and expand the athletic program.

However, I would like to give a more student-oriented perspective than the one contained in the Feb. 17 editorial, “Has UNCG lost sight of its academic mission?”

I’m afraid the answer is, “Yes.”

The fee increase was actually $46—$30 for the baseball stadium that only a handful of students will use, $8 for athletic scholarships that only a handful of students will get, and, finally, $8 for the several handfuls of students who came here for an education.

It should be noted that the $30 increase was only one time, while the $16 is now a permanent fixture on tuition bills.

The issue is not the baseball stadium. The issue is not expanding the athletic program. The issue is respect.

The Student Government Association and the student body are only consulted as a matter of form so that when disputes arise the board of trustees can claim “every effort” was made to come to a compromise and a just decision—when in fact no effort was made.

At an open meeting of the board of trustees on Feb. 13 at which students were actually allowed to watch their educational future being destroyed, Student Government President Brandon Mathis was the only member of the board who cast a “nay” against the fee increase. When he did so, he was actually laughed at by the trustees for his effort to oppose them.

While behavior with more class can be found in prison riots, it showed exactly where the board stands and what they think of the student body of this university.

Part of the $8 increase for “other” students was to provide a larger computer lab in the Jackson library. Chancellor Patricia Sullivan said the new lab would be open for the “maximum possible hours.”

The understanding among students and the SGA was that the computer lab would be open 24 hours. The understanding was so strong that it was even called the “24-hour computer lab” by everyone on campus.

It was not until the administration found out that it would be too expensive to keep the library open 24 hours that any effort was made at clarifying “maximum possible hours,” which apparently is just an enigmatic metaphor for the current library schedule.

The administration claimed that 24-hour access to the lab was not possible because they could not pay for security. A university that can build a $4 million-to-$6 million baseball stadium that its students do not want certainly can figure out a way to provide 24-hour access to one computer lab that students could actually use.

The problem is there is no motivation for the board: A computer lab only helps students learn; it does not line anyone’s pockets.

UNCG was never meant to be a competitive sports school and it never will be. With UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State, Duke and Wake Forest surrounding it, UNCG will never have the economic or athletic strength to compete. Trying to become a major athletic power is a futile effort.

A lot of good could be done for education with the money being consumed by this pointless athletic expansion.

There are some fine athletes at UNCG, but it takes more than talent to succeed in competitive athletics. The circumstances to do so simply do not exist here.

UNCG’s strength lies in its solid academic programs. The English, history, music, art, deaf education, and nursing programs here can compete with any school in the country. The MFA writing program is nationally recognized for its excellence. The board should capitalize on our academic strengths and use them to attract students who want more out of college than the occasional baseball game and a cold beer.

Many of the problems currently facing this school are the result of this ill-advised athletic expansion. The parking situation here is terrible, and though a new parking deck is supposed to solve the problem, it will not even come close.

And in the rare event that a crowd actually decides to attend a baseball game, the situation will just get worse.

Many of the class buildings are in a state of disrepair and every department here (except athletics) needs extra money.

The claim that sports boost student morale is the product of misguided thinking. Look at the controversy this baseball stadium has caused.

These fee increases, the direct result of athletic expansion, have destroyed the faith students had in UNCG.

UNCG students do not want this stadium.

The idea that a strong athletic program will attract new students is also off target. All the students who have come and gone from this school in its 100-plus year history did not come here for sports.

Neither did I.

While the decisions of the board have proven that the number of unintelligent people is on the rise, the number of intelligent people is not declining.

There are good students out there who are looking for academics and not athletics. Let the big schools cater to the sports fan; let UNCG concentrate on the serious student.

Before the controversy we thought the board of trustees did not care about student interest; now we know.

Scott Thomason is a UNCG sophomore majoring in English and history.


© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2016