There have been plenty of stories in the news recently that I wanted to write about. Derek Jeter having one of the best send offs of all time, Landon Donovan ending his storied soccer career for the United States, the once golden child Oscar Pistorious being found guilty and the continued problems of professional athletes in the NFL. But none of these really inspired me enough to actually sit down and write. Well, that day has finally come.
My once golden alma mater has fallen from grace and all for what is supposed to be “student” athletics.
Within the past few days, a report was released that stated over 3100 UNC athletes for over a decade long period basically got free grades in their classes to help keep them eligible for sports. There are so many different ways to take in this information that it is almost impossible to choose. I could talk about how this points to the NCAA and the fact there are not really student-athletes anymore. I could talk about how these students were robbed of an education to provide money for their schools. I could talk about how this is probably happening at every major athletic school in the nation and as well as at some of the smaller schools. But those are all issues for someone else to write about.
Instead, I am going to write about how my college education has been degraded by people I never met and by decisions I had no control over. I can rant and rave all I want that all the classes I took at UNC were not only fairly graded but difficult. I can say that I worked for every single grade I earned, bad or good. And I can say, for certain, that I earned my degree, nothing was handed to me. But in the eyes of the general public that doesn’t mater. The name of my school has been tarnished, possibly forever.
How far UNC has fallen was very clear to me when I attended the UNC vs. UVA football game. Now I am no softee when it comes to sports and mocking other teams. In fact, in our very own fight song we tell Duke to go to hell. Do we mean it? Of course not, our two schools just love to hate each other. However, at this game, I saw multiple signs that claimed that if I could read them I didn’t attend UNC. Clever, of course. Insulting, definitely. Or this sign, UNC “Univeristy of No Classes.” Also quite clever. However, in a few short days the past four years of my life have evidently been degraded, all for a few wins. I wanted to argue with these fans and say not only was my UNC education worthwhile but it was good enough for me to be accepted to your institution as a graduate student. But a college sporting event is not the time or place for such academic discussions.
What worries me most is this is how the general public views my institution. What happens when I meet people or go for a job interview? Do I hide from my college now that it has been tainted? I will always look favorably upon my time in Chapel Hill. The question remains if people will look favorably upon me.
I am a Tar Heel born and a Tar Heel bred and when I die I will be a Tar Heel dead. Those words that I once shouted at the top of my lungs so proudly now seem to only come as a whisper.