By Kirsten Haller, Guest Writer
Years of watching cliché college coming-of-age movies never prepared me for this. Before coming to Miami, I held the contrived belief that my D-1 school would have more school spirit than my own high school with a graduating class of 250 students.
However, Miami is fundamentally devoid of school spirit. If you ask someone what he or she is doing on a Saturday afternoon, you are more often met with an answer related to drinking than going to a sporting event. We are essentially a drinking town with a college problem where it is inherently more socially unacceptable to wear your own school's T-shirt than that of any other given college (excluding both Ohio State University and that plain, old and destitute Ohio University, of course).
This is not just a simple rant - it surprisingly has some relevance. Grace Remington, this newspaper's sports editor, recently wrote an article about the athletic program subsidizing costs with student fees.
At this school, 75 percent of these athletic subsidies come from student fees. This is not an uncommon practice, as only 21 colleges in the country are able to bring in enough revenue that their athletics departments don't need to generate funds from the students.
However, the fees reach nearly $1,000, which, frankly, I think is ridiculous. By the end of my time here, barring a fifth year victory lap, I will have given the athletic program $4,000. And how many games do I go to? None.
Of course, the argument is twofold: it is my choice not to go to games and participate in the athletic community, and it is not the only fee that we have to pay that we may not directly use as students. Ok, I understand both of these things and they are legitimate points.
But, some of the money that I pay to attend this university directly goes to scholarships for the athletes. And I do realize that what they do is difficult and they give up a lot of time and energy to be in the program.
But, I, who graduated near the top percentage of my class, scored exceptionally high on my ACT, took leadership roles, worked weekends, summers and holidays, volunteered and participated in clubs, sports and various organizations throughout high school only received a small academic scholarship.
I am able to experience both sides and get a pretty fair - admittedly slightly biased since I am a non-athlete - opinion. This is because my cousin recently signed to play basketball at the University of Michigan. Hearing about the amenities they offered him, such as reference tutors who fly with athletes to games to ensure that they don't fail out, made me think about the entire situation in more of a big picture light.
For him, it is his way to pay for his own education and he worked so hard to get to the skill level that he is at. And there is nothing that should devalue work ethic.
But, what about all of the work ethic of the high school students staying in over the weekend to study or spending months to prep for their SATs? Is their intelligence and drive going to be wasted because they can't afford college or they have to settle for a lesser academic program because of a lack of academic scholarship money?
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What does this say about what we value as a university? Our tuition money is being used for curb appeal both with new facilities and a built-up athletic program. It's like the college manifestation of the gilded age.
Students come here to visit and see the big football stadium and assume it will be filled with cheering fans every weekend. But if they come here they soon realize that sports are obsolete in the minds of students here and there is a severe deficiency of school pride. However, we continue to pay hundreds for appearances over substance. Go RedHawks.