To the editor:
Shaun Hittle’s article on student athlete “clustering” in select majors is an example of irresponsible assertion and thinly veiled racism masquerading as “in-depth” reporting. Hittle observes that a disproportionate number of players in the Kansas University men’s program have majored in African/African American studies, communications and American studies. The article suggests that this demonstrates faculty’s lowered academic standards for black student athletes.
How is “clustering” proof of such misconduct? Hittle provides no evidence and apparently failed to interview faculty from these departments. Are African-American athletes the only students who select courses and majors based on word of mouth, the guidance of counselors and faculty mentors, positive learning experiences in the classroom, and personal affinities? Are they so different from other students who “cluster” around education, business or other popular undergraduate majors? The issue is whether student athletes receive a quality education, not how many of them share a major.
Hittle makes the leap that majoring in these fields presents “little future opportunity” for those who don’t turn professional. Again, what is the basis of this claim? As with all liberal arts fields, African/African American studies, communications, and American studies endeavor to teach critical thinking, research and writing; explore the human condition in all of its complexity; and foster engaged citizenship. They contribute a solid foundation for numerous careers, not to mention more thoughtful and informed journalism.