Column: Tuition Toss is a fumble

Next year there will be an English Literature student working at Taco Bell instead of dissecting “Madame Butterfly.” Next year a potential graduate student will enter the workforce instead of pursuing their dream. Next year there will be a chemistry major working in a factory instead of attending games at “the Factory.” Next year a random student at Eastern Michigan University will receive a year of free tuition for attending a football game.

EMU announced that it will be awarding a random student attending the Western Michigan football game free tuition for a year. Why? Because CBS Sports will be televising the game and an empty stadium looks bad on national T.V.  Because giving away a year of tuition is the only way to persuade students to waste a Thursday night in Rynearson Stadium.

Again, EMU chooses to pour resources into the NCAA’s version of the Detroit Lions. The last time EMU had a winning record in football was in 1995 when the team went 6-5. In 1995, the average EMU freshman was two years away from being born. When will enough be enough?

I could argue the education a student receives at EMU can rival that of any college in the country. EMU’s educators truly care about their students and most go the extra mile to see them succeed. Yet, next year an adjunct political science professor who inspires his students to ask questions and think critically will not be offered a tenure track position. Next year an administrator who works over 10 hours a day on salary will not have her contract renewed. But a student going to a football game will receive a year of free tuition and resources will continue to be poured into a losing product on the field.

In football, you play to your strengths. If you have a great running back, you do not throw the ball 40 times a game. If you have a powerful defense, you try to control both the clock and field position. Eastern Michigan University has not been playing to its strengths for a very, very long time. Instead of supporting the students, staff and faculty that are the backbone of the university, it has been chasing the pipedream of a successful football program. Instead of rewarding those who work the hardest, it increases tuition by 7.8 percent in one year and then have the audacity to try to bribe students to watch their pitiful product on the field with a year of free tuition. Doesn't EMU realize many of its students will be working on a Thursday night to pay for college?

When will enough be enough? When will the resources go to the students and staff who love this school—instead of a program that hemorrhages money? TRUEMU is not being in Rynearson Stadium on a Saturday afternoon. TRUEMU is the students working toward a top notch education provided by educators who go the extra mile for them. Perhaps it is time the Regents and President learn that lesson and start supporting those who truly deserve it.

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