Review priorities

It is no wonder that athletic department personnel believe $2.4 million is a reasonable amount for students to pay toward athletics—we pay their salary!

Athletic department personnel suggest that if our teams were to win more, students would not be expected to contribute as much to the athletic budget. Hardly. Even if our football and basketball teams completed undefeated seasons, and successfully competed in post-season play, are we so naive as to think that tuition would decrease?

Right … and students are attracted to NIU because of DeKalb’s scenic vistas and proximity to the beach. Tuition, taxes and the cost of a loaf of bread will continue to increase, regardless of how well our Huskies perform.

Why did most schools fail to report students’ tuition payments to athletic departments? Because these amounts are unreasonable! Here at Northern, as at many other schools nationwide, tuition climbs while classes are cut.

Is the mission of a university to promote athletics, or to promote learning? Education is the raison d’etre of an educational institution.

Don’t get me wrong—I like sports. Chances are pretty good that if there is a decent volleyball game nearby, I’m either playing or enjoying the action. Sports are enjoyable, important aspects of an education, and an education is incomplete without physical education courses.

But how many additional courses could that $2.4 million have funded? How many professors could be hired or given competitive, rather than middling, salaries? What improvements could be made regarding the faculty/student ratio, laboratory space, Anderson Hall, or the library?

Tuition money should go toward educational ends, including physical education, which is separate from the athletic department. We would have better facilities, more accessibility to faculty and an enhanced education if tuition money were spent on education.

For example, I teach two sections of a 400-level course. Although faculty typically have 40 students per section in such courses, doctoral-level teaching assistants have a limit of 50. This semester, however, I have many more because students (seniors, mind you!) were closed out of classes.

When seniors can’t fill their schedule in order to graduate, something is wrong! Students deserve smaller class sizes, but—call me strange—I have a hard time telling seniors that they will have to postpone graduation because I don’t have room for one more person in my class.

The budget crunch is here with a vengeance, and it is time that we reconsider our priorities.

Michael Nielsen

Graduate Student