Where Is the Education? 

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I am a student at the University of Utah and I think we have confused our priorities. It’s disturbing that Kyle Whittingham will receive yet another raise to maintain his status as the highest-paid employee at the U.

That’s right, Whittingham makes more than brain surgeons, the interim president of the university or the equivalent of two-dozen faculty members’ average salaries combined. And you know what? Whittingham didn’t even ask for a raise. Would your boss do that in a recession? The athletic department just did. This latest excess shows that the University of Utah has lost its moral and strategic compass.

Utah Gov. Herbert recently stated, “I think it is absolutely imperative for our long-term economic stability that we fund education” (The Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 12). Although the University of Utah should be our institution most dedicated to such a mission, a look at the Website touts the many benefits of being in the Pac-12, the campus’ vicinity to great outdoor activities, and even some fun shots of “Rail Jam,” yet offers no mission statement about our dedication to learning.

Education is far from the top priority for funding at the University of Utah. As a student at the university, I can’t go a day without hearing about budget cuts or the potential for tuition hikes while attending class in a building without heat or watching students struggle to afford books. How are these conditions conducive to learning? Amid these infrastructure shortcomings and rumors of fiscal crisis, I read of plans for a new athletic facility for the football team.

Somehow, the university can drum up $300,000 for one coach because “it is fair,” while its students are being taught by adjuncts in freezing classrooms. This is impossible to square with the governor’s hopes for education, and with the community’s needs for higher education. Have you read the book Beer & Circus? I’ll summarize Murray Sperber’s thesis: Big universities are creating a party scene connected with big-time college sporting events as a ploy to keep undergraduates happy and distracted while paying their tuition. In essence, college sports are replacing meaningful educational experiences.

To students at the University and citizens of Utah I say, “Wake up!” Don’t let the big red distraction gobble all your tax money and then sell you tickets! Instead, let’s join together to denounce the high cost of football at the university and then demand that funding go toward actual education.

Whitney Williams
Salt Lake City

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