Our view: Books and butter

When was the last time you went to a Kent State athletic event? Sure, the student body shows up more often when a given team is on a hot streak, but Kent State doesn’t have nearly the attendance rates that other universities do.

Now, for another question: When was the last time you changed your academic plans because the cost of tuition cut into your (or your parents) savings? Maybe it meant how many classes you were going to take in a given semester, whether you were going to take a summer class or if you were going to risk sharing an expensive textbook with the creepy kid who sits in the back of the room to save a few dollars.

Even before the nation’s economy started struggling and the unemployment rate shot up, making even lousy jobs that don’t pay well more competitive, students at Kent State and around the country were struggling to make ends meet.

Not all of these students were necessarily facing hard times. It may just have been a matter where their legal guardian(s) made too much money for the students to qualify for federal, state or university need-based aid. And some students who may have qualified for academic scholarships may have been told there simply wasn’t enough for everyone to get a share.

Last week, Kent News Net ran a story about newly recruited members of the Kent State football team, who earned lower scores on the ACT than non-football athletes and non-athletic students, being given full scholarships. The story ruffled a great many feathers, as the comments section following the story shows.

Several people who commented were upset by the story because they felt it attacked the university.

But many more were upset that the majority of students must earn at least a 21 of 36 on the ACT to receive any kind of academic scholarship, while these football players, some reportedly scoring as low as a 14, received full scholarships.

And, frankly, we’re a little upset, too. Kent State is not the only school that gives high-profile athletic students financial assistance with tuition, housing and books, or that may overlook academic shortcomings in favor of prowess on the field or court.

Practically everyone can think of an instance where a student athlete has been granted privileges not allowed to others.

When was the decision made that student athletes shouldn’t be held to a higher standard? Athletes are considered leaders and role models. At other universities, student athletes often need ACT and SAT scores closer to those of non-athletic students to be eligible for scholarships.

Better athletes might mean more wins. More wins would mean better attendance and more money coming in for the university.

But if the academic standards for our student athletes are lowered, what happens to the standards for the rest of us?

We’re not saying it’s all business or just about the bottom line. But it can certainly appear that way.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board members.