16 September 2003

No Athletics Department for Vanderbilt

This associated press article was mentioned by my music theory teacher in class this morning. Vanderbilt is eliminating its althetics as a seperate department. The program will now be under central university administration, and the budget is being cut. This is being done because the school's chancellor has declared war on the "wrong culture" of sports which he believes prevails at universities.

My professor did not mention anything to do with my school in connection with this article. He stated that it was "interesting," and "a brave move." He also told us that the school's chancellor (and I don't know how he knows this) has been getting letters and phone calls 50-1 in support of the move. This is definitely contrary to anyone's expectations. Dr. Schaefer did say to us that he thinks that a lot of schools might not survive such a decision, Notre Dame for instance.

The sports culture is very strong at Gonzaga. A book about the rise of our basketball team over the last ten years went on sale in the bookstore this spring, to great hype. It was much the same at my high school. Needless to say, it brings a lot of money and attention to the school, but I have to ask, is this really what a university wants to get attention for? Especially a Catholic one?

I'd much rather Gonzaga be known for its outstanding choir. We do have a really awesome choir, and they're going on an 8-day tour of France next summer along with the Schola, which is an almost unique entity among American universities. Yet, hardly anyone knows that we have a fantastic choir, or some really brilliant, first-rate philosophy professors, a unique program of sacred music, a pretty fantastic history, and sports other than basketball (for instance, a prize-winning women's crew team). At the moment, to the outside world, Gonzaga=basketball. And that's sad.

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