Archive for Tuesday, June 26, 2012

‘Clustering’ leap

June 26, 2012


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.          


Alceste 1 year, 9 months ago

Hmmmm......job security letter?

Tidwell raked a cool $92,096.16 in 2011 ( )

Davis pulled in $92,238.69 for the same time period ( )

Lang don't count as Lang is a "visiting professor".....whatever that is......

What departments are they in? Let's take a look see: Tidwell's in "English"; Davis is in Film and Media Studies; Lang's in African/African Amer Studies.

Gravy train jobs (if they can even be called jobs....) shrug


classclown 1 year, 9 months ago

Looks like athletes aren't the only ones that cluster. The faculty does it too.


blue73harley 1 year, 9 months ago

I have no comment regarding the AA studies courses but I do know that student athletes (or is it athlete students?) are guided to courses that are easy. I remember taking a course for a science elective at KU. The informal name for it was Rocks for Jocks. (I won't give the formal name because I wouldn't want to ruin anyone's fun). At 6 ft. tall, weighing 180 lbs, at the time, I was the smallest member of the class. Very few ever showed up for class. The prof supplied class notes for every class. No test was required except the final. And you could use the teacher supplied notes. Sad but true.


mom_of_three 1 year, 9 months ago

Has any one who commented taken a class from any one of the professors or faculty listed? I didn't think so. And one of you makes the claim that American students/AA studies courses are "soft." Go ahead, take a class and tell me that the curriculum is soft and the class is easy.


labmonkey 1 year, 9 months ago

In other words, the LTE writers acknowledge "you're f*g with my bread and butter."


FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 9 months ago

Government complex intellectual nuanced Liberals calling Hittle a "thinly veiled racism"? This is a 'typical' , a 'classic' government response when they have 'done' what they are 'observed' doing.

Imagine that. People in your government. "Clustering".


cato_the_elder 1 year, 9 months ago

This isn't rocket science. All that's happened is that KU has quietly adopted soft curricula, perfected by most Big Ten schools decades ago, which are reasonably successful in offering athletes (and non-athletes too) a way to stay in college by avoiding taking the difficult courses.

The faculty members responding to Mr. Hittle's article do, methinks, protest too much.


Benjamin Roberts 1 year, 9 months ago

Hittle's article doesn't conclude that African-American players are lesser quality students due to course selection. In fact, one of his interviewees only notes that black students may choose African-American studies because they are black and the subject interests them.

It seems that the LTE writers may harbor some preconceptions about African-American athletes; preconceptions that they project upon others.


labmonkey 1 year, 9 months ago

"They contribute a solid foundation for numerous careers..."

Name some.


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