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The Minds of Children in the Bodies of Adults

We’ve all heard stories. We’ve sat in class with them and seen them on campus. We’ve seen the tutors take notes and we are constantly reminded of how special they are every time we see the shiny glass cube that the Jaqua center is. We all know that student athletes aren’t like the rest of us, not just because they perform athletic feats but simply because they just don’t experience college the way we do. They are pampered by the university and the reason is simple; they make U of O a shit ton of money.

Recent light has been cast on the academic struggles of athletes at University of North Carolina. Instructor Mary C. Willingham published a thesis in 2009: http://libres.uncg.edu/ir/uncg/f/Willingham_uncg_0154M_10097.pdf, detailing some of the big problems that are involved in student athlete academics. Earlier this year, CNN corroborated a story with her which showed that “around 7%-18% of basketball, football students in many schools read poorly” aka below academic standards.(http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2014/01/us/college-scores/index.html,http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/07/us/ncaa-athletes-reading-scores/index.html). Willingham showed that between “8% and 10% of the school’s[UNC] football and basketball players are reading below a third-grade level.” Former UNC professor Madeline G. Levine also published an open letter in support of Willingham’s findings and to describe her own experiences with athletics at the school: http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/31/06/20/1lZoJJ.So.138.pdf. 

Now North Carolina is considered to be a premier institution of learning, way above U of O according to Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/top-colleges/list/,  and if academic dishonesty and fraud is happening there you can bet your sweet ass it is happening at our own fine University of Nike. The CNN study actually included University of Oregon and showed this:

“Football
— 35/245 athletes scored below 400 on the SAT verbal test.
— 52/194 athletes scored a 400 or lower on the SAT writing test.
— 20/87 athletes scored below a 16 on the ACT English test.

Men’s basketball
— 11 scored below a 420 on the SAT verbal test, with 18 scoring higher.
— 10 scored below a 410 on the SAT writing test, with 13 scoring higher.

Women’s basketball
— 11 scored below a 450 on the SAT verbal test, with 45 scoring higher.
— 11 scored below a 45o on the SAT writing test, with 35 scoring higher.

The average SAT verbal score of all students admitted to the University of Oregon in 2012 was 549.
The university said that between 2007 and 2012,there were no more than 90 athletes specially admitted to the University of Oregon, meaning they would not have otherwise been admitted on academics alone.”

Scoring below 450 on either the writing or the verbal SAT’s means that you’re going to be just above or below the worst 33% of all test takers. Which by any definition is not good at all. One can wonder how well these numbers mesh with our University’s own mission “The university is a community of scholars dedicated to the highest standards of academic inquiry, learning, and service”. We must clearly have very different definition of what the word “highest” means because letting in students who score in the bottom third of all SAT test takers is not my definition of “highest standards of academic inquiry”. Granted, the SAT isn’t an all encompassing measurement neither does it always accurately reflect a person’s intelligence or knowledge level but they are important to colleges yet they don’t really seem to matter if you’re a good athlete.

It is important to note that this isn’t an attack on the student athletes themselves. It isn’t the student athletes fault that they get an entire tutoring center dedicated to them while the rest of us congregate in PFC’s basement. It is not their fault that our University has a culture that allows people who aren’t qualified for college to come here. Neither is this an attempt to suggest that all student athletes are dumber or inferior to the rest of the student population. This is just an attempt to show that we are a part of a institution that uses and places people in terrible situations just for the sake of money. This is something we should be upset about but then again it is a lot easier and way more fun to cheer on for our teams and support this culture instead of looking the bleak truth in the eye.

Go Ducks