Focus on academics needed


The Appalachian Online

The Appalachian

Last academic year, Appalachian State University sent 47 students to present at the prestigious National Conference for Undergraduate Research. Appalachian is notable for providing opportunities to students to begin their research careers as undergraduates.

Despite this, the outstanding academic achievements of Appalachian’s students have been routinely ignored while the spotlight focuses on the athletics program, especially the football team.

I know that football is near and dear to the hearts of many in this community, but football is not the reason this university exists.

Universities do not exist for sports. The scandal at UNC-Chapel Hill concerning the fake courses created as GPA boosters for athletes makes this point. Since the general community reacted with outrage at the discovery, it’s clear that we expect higher academic standards in a university setting.

The fact that these courses went on for years also demonstrates it is fairly well-accepted in this society that athletes are subject to different rules than the rest of us.

I do not want to overgeneralize about the athletes here; I believe that most, if not all, are committed to their academic careers. However, that does not change the fact that participation in college sports takes considerable time away from academics.

Furthermore, the glorification of athletics takes both time and money away from academic programs. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of athletics programs do not create a profit for their home universities, and even when a profit is created, it is usually funneled right back into the athletics. Therefore, in order to fund athletics, the academic budget is depleted.

Tuition and fees are constantly rising, and student debt is at an all-time high. The university budget is shrinking, yet athletics still manages to take priority. Despite popularity, athletics should not be allowed to escape budget cuts while academic programs are being cut and defunded.

Appalachian – like all universities – is first and foremost a place of learning. It exists so we as students can increase our knowledge, so we can explore subjects and ideas that intrigue us and so we can grow and expand intellectually.

Research is one of the best methods for students to achieve these goals. Appalachian already has an amazing system with the Office of Student Research, which is in place to support and guide students who choose to pursue research.

It is time that we give these students, faculty and mentors more recognition and make sure academics is recognized as the top priority at Appalachian.

Malcolm, a junior history major from Walkertown, is an opinion writer.