Just before the weekend the students at The Ohio State University held a demonstration in support of their peers at the University of Missouri. The question that remains is what precisely are they supporting? While recent events at Mizzou may reflect some interracial strife on campus, it is unclear what the source or nature of that tension is. What is clear is that when he was forced to step down as the university president, Tim Wolfe commented on the lack of appropriate communication on campus.
Before the football team threatened to forfeit a game, America had not heard of issues at the Missouri campus. How great were those issues? Did the actions of the football team reflect a growing concern or were they an over-reaction? Was there anything that the president or chancellor could have done to solve issues? Did they truly ignore a growing concern? Since when do students call the shots on campus?
Because events occurred just after Election Day, some find the Mizou dilemma reminiscent of concerns for proper treatment of minorities with regard to voter registration. Many argue that requiring identification abuses minorities who may have a harder time acquiring drivers licenses, voters registration cards and state ids than others. Whys this should be is never quite stated. On the other hand, others argue that in every country it is normal to limit the right to vote to citizens. Documents that prove citizenship are shown as part of the process of voting. This writer recalls a time that he carried a voter registration card to the polling station in order to cast a ballot.
So why did Wolfe resign. If one remembers his election as president, one will remember that Wolfe was not an academic. He was brought from the business world in order to resolve financial issues that had plagued U of M. He faced a situation in which the university would have suffered a million dollar loss had he not resigned. Whether or not he could have done a thing to limit racial tension on campus, or even if it was his area of responsibility, his professional responsibility to repair the budget in this case demanded he quit. A million dollar pill is a hard one to swallow.
What is also disconcerting is the power of sports in determining college policy. Football should be no more than an opportunity for student involvement and entertainment, and yet it has grown overly in consequence. Football income at many campuses has become a major part of universities’ operating budgets. This has the effect, sadly, of giving student teams far more power than they deserve in shaping the very nature of university life.
For this reader of events, also, it seems that if there was anyone with less right to object to racial problems at the campus it is the football team. While writing this essay, it seemed a this new version of Dayeinu song from the Passover seder may have been more appropriate for the thirty on the team that threatened not to play.
Had we attended high school but never played football, it should have been enough for us.
Had we played high school football and never been scouted by the university , it should have been enough for us.
Had we been scouted and never been recruited by the coaching staff, it should have been enough for us.
Had we been recruited by coaching staff, and not given full ride scholarships, it should have been enough for us.
Had we been given full ride scholarships but never played university football, it should have been enough for us.
For this and so many other wonderful opportunities we should show thanks and appreciation. We graduated high school as recruited athletes who attend university with a full scholarship and play football there.
Are these pampered players the appropriate people to protest problems that plague the place?