College athletes enjoy unearned benefits

Blaire Fenniman

We all know a degree from Villanova University looks great and very respectable on a resume. We also know it wasn’t easy to get accepted into this highly accredited school. We spent hours in high school working on homework and projects, studying for tests, practicing for the next big game or the next big musical. All of our hard work earned us a spot on this prestigious campus, giving us the opportunity to expand our academic, athletic, musical and theatrical careers. So what happens when a student gets to college? Do they continue their hard work ethic? I know some of you are probably thinking, “Of course. What else would they do?” Well unfortunately, there are many situations where that just isn’t the case. Most commonly, this is seen with student-athletes. This is not to say that student-athletes are not hard workers, because they are. I recently read an article that a UNC student-athlete was given an A- on a “final paper” that he wrote about Rosa Parks, yet that “final paper” was all of a paragraph long. What about the student who planned out and wrote a detailed five page essay? What grade did they earn? Student-athletes like this one were enrolled in what were called “paper classes” at UNC. They were never required to attend class sessions and the only work they had to pass in was one final paper. So you’re telling me that student-athlete only had to write one paper, and they couldn’t even write more than a paragraph? recently reported that in January the University of North Carolina publicly apologized for these “paper classes” that were keeping student-athletes academically eligible. To put it simply, these classes were phony and straight up scams. In order for student-athletes to remain active in their specific sport, they must remain academically eligible. It has been incredible to see how easy it has been for many of them to maintain good academic standing. For example, signing a friend in on an attendance sheet, blatantly cheating on an exam, sucking up to a professor by using their on-campus “celebrity” status, etc. The worst part of it all is that without student-athletes, most colleges wouldn’t draw in the funds they need to maintain a thriving campus environment. However, do they deserve celebrity treatment? In my opinion, no. I’m sure it sounds like I’m trashing student-athletes right now, but I promise I’m not. In fact, I have many friends here who are student-athletes and I know they work hard for their grades. However, I have also seen multiple times where some student-athletes act as if they don’t have to try in class because they know that they will still succeed in the class, whether that grade was earned or not. There are a couple student-athletes in one of my more challenging classes. There is one who I always see taking detailed notes and asking questions, and the other is usually texting, chatting to a neighbor or falling asleep. I recently had an exam in this class but I felt prepared since I attended every class session, took detailed notes and did all the assigned readings. The student-athlete who tends to fall asleep in class usually sits far away from me, but on exam day he decided he would move right next to me. When he sat down he turned to me and said, “So you’re going to help me pass this test, right?” I kindly said good luck and turned away. I’ve heard a few student-athletes say that they simply don’t care about a class because they know they won’t get in trouble and that they will get passing grades no matter the amount of work they put into the class. I don’t know about the rest of the Villanova community, but that really grinds my gears. What about the rest of us who put in endless hours working hard for the grades we earn in class? I understand student-athletes don’t have as much time as the rest of us to work on academics because they have practices and games and what not, but why do they get the “privilege” of having their grades delivered to them on a silver platter? I don’t exactly have a solution to offer to this problem, but I know that I am not the only one who feels that this “celebrity” student-athlete stigma is more than annoying and in all honesty, unfair. It’s unsettling to know that no matter how hard you worked for a grade, that someone else is quite possibly earning a better one than you simply because they are part of the reason this school is getting donations upon donations. There is a reason why they’re called student-athletes and not athlete-students, so it’s about time that schools everywhere, not just ‘Nova, start to practice what they preach.