Friday, August 26, 2011

Got (a football) game? Then cancel classes!!

The University of Utah has an upcoming Thursday night home football game. And because of it, the university is cancelling classes that evening.

Needless to say, as the Salt Lake Tribune reports, not everyone on the campus is happy with that decision.
To avoid campus gridlock, University of Utah administrators have canceled classes on the afternoon and evening of Sept. 1, when the Utes make their debut as a Pac-12 football program.
“It’s a recognition of the reality that the stadium is now filling for every game,” said David Pershing, the U.’s senior vice president for academic affairs. “Any game that occurs on weeknights gives us huge parking and transportation issues. Last year [for the Sept. 2 game against Pittsburgh], we did not cancel classes and it proved to be a nightmare.”
Pershing, who announced the cancellation on Wednesday, stressed that academics remain more important than athletics at the U., but some faculty were not pleased with the precedent it sets.
“I don’t like the message it sends,” said Jay Jordan, an assistant professor of English. “We are going to use the academic schedule to accommodate football.”
But student president Neela Pack noted a precedent was set for accommodating rock ’n’ roll when classes were canceled for the U2 concert last summer.
“It would be counterproductive [to hold classes] when there’s so much noise, traffic and people missing,” she said. “It’s an understandable thing. A majority of students will be at the game.”
A majority of students will be at the game? Hmmmm. According to the University of Utah's athletics website, the Utes' home stadium holds 45,017.  And according to the university's information page, the student enrollment is 31,000.

For a majority of students to be there, that means more than 1/3 of the stadium would have to be filled with students. Am I the only one who thinks that seems a bit high in today's let's-maximize-income-by-selling-season-seats-to-the-general-public strategy?

However, the far more important issue here is whether the university's administration did the correct thing in shutting down the university to accommodate a football game. There's only one answer to that -- no.

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