I could write incessantly about Syracuse University and its problems with an out-of-control athletic department and an academic system too afraid to complain about their excesses–but then we have syracuse.com and its blanket coverage for that. (I’m still holding out for a “Fab Melo–where is he now?” article!)
I just want to say that I was both heartened and horrified by the message sent by Syracuse U. Chancellor Kent Syverud in a talk to more than 100 faculty members on March 16th. I was heartened because the administration realizes the seriousness of the academic fraud perpetrated by the University in the case of the Fab Melo grade change incident. I was horrified to learn just how fearful the academic faculty is of the athletic department.
This anecdote told by a professor is illustrative:
Both Kaplan and another source recalled an anecdote told to the chancellor by a professor in the Child and Family Studies department, which has a high percentage of football and basketball players.
In one class, the professor recalled, two football players struggled on a midterm last spring. When he approached them about it, he asked them “what they were (in school) for?”
The two football players laughed. “Coach asks us that all the time,” Kaplan remembered the professor saying. “We’re supposed to say football.”
The final thing I feel the need to relate on this topic is a conversation I had at work with a couple of co-workers. As it turns out, both of them are graduates of Syracuse. In addition, both of them related how difficult it was for them to complete their studies,
One of my co-workers immigrated to America as a teenager. While she had been in America for over a decade before enrolling at SU and was quite comfortable speaking in English, composition was another matter. She wore out her dictionaries and had to read all her papers out loud to get them in shape to turn in to her professors.
Another of my co-workers related that his disabilities meant he had to use all the academic support services the University offered. He remained in constant communication with his professors and teaching assistants to help him to understand his course work.
Both of my co-workers successfully completed their degrees and have moved into responsible positions in their chosen careers. Both of my co-workers are also mad as hell about the allegations levelled against their alma mater. Both worked hard as students to overcome great hurdles to academic success. Both are mad that their struggles and their accomplishments are diminished by the actions of a University that compromised its standards and help athletes commit academic fraud to protect their eligibility.