Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Knights Who Say "Nay" Have Returned

I stumbled upon what seems to be a month-old blog from the folks at Rutgers 1000, subtitled "Friends of Rutgers Academics". More than a pro-Academics site, the posts on this blog should be familiar to anyone who heard the anti-bigtime-college-sports arguments of William C. Dowling and Rutgers 1000 around the turn of the century.
We are told in their mission statement that moving of the Rutgers football and basketball teams to the 1AA level with Rhode Island and UMass will help to improve the academic standing of our Alma Mater. In addition to this demand, their "About" page also praises my old President, Ed Bloustein, for wanting to make Rutgers "The Berkeley of the East," ignoring the fact that Berkeley has the California Golden Bears clawing for supremacy in the Pac-10 year after year.
I sense a generally elitist attitude in this group -- an attitude that Rutgers should return to a mythical golden age when the entire campus was singularly devoted to the grinding of noses on academic sharpening stones. That golden age never existed. Rutgers always has been, and always should be, the place that Junot Díaz described in my post from yesterday morning, where "It felt like the world was given a university, not like the rich and the special and the privileged were given a university." A place where there's room for excellence in academics and athletics (and for the kids who are just trying to find themselves, or find a party, or get into medical/law school to please a parent, or impress a member of the opposite sex with their wonderfulness). Rutgers will never be Williams or Middlebury. It's a city, with a city's diversity. It's the State University of New Jersey, and those of us who won Phi Beta Kappa keys can appreciate those who work to win trophies instead. And on Saturday afternoons (and some Thursday nights) we can all wear red and feel like we're part of the same family. I'd wish the same good feeling for those writing for this new blue blog.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

RU was never Williams but there was an era when RU made every effort to compete academically with such schools. There was never any doubt that the priority of RU was to afford its students the best possible environment for learning. Since the late 70's RU has squandered countless millions of dollars on big time football at the expense of academics and the "lesser" sports.

Apparently, it isn't elitist to pursue athletic excellence at any cost while those who seek scholastic excellence at an institution whose suposed purpose is to provide a higher education to its students are labelled with that inane accusation! This juvenile name calling is evidence of the corrosive effect of big time football on academics at RU.

No serious student will apply to a school with a culture of blatant anti-intellectual stereotyping. This only serves to further erode the quality of the educational experience at RU. It is one of the reasons that big time football and the highest levels of academic accomplishment are fundamentally incompatible as established by the vast body of research in this area.

RU should return to its roots and deemphasize commercialized big time sports.