I I I I I name address zip c it y state tO 001 SUBSCRIBE TO TE-rx BsERvER MO NM MI 111111 111111 NMI OM MI MI MO MN MI I= 0 S23 enclosed for a one-year subscription O bill me for 523 600 W 28th 0105, Austin, Texan 78705 81 or am it SIP mm INN 11111 AL. I suggest that we learn what we can about this miserable movement and make something good out of it. “Let’s form an “English And” movement, based on the fact that children can learn languages with amazing facility if they begin well before the age of about eight. Let’s start a movement to multilingualize our people by persuading the schools to teach foreign languages starting in kindergarten as part of the mandatory curriculum. During the debate we had on all this at UT, Zaeske had in front of him at the table where he was seated a bumper sticker that said, “Yes! English.” I suggest we respond, “Yes! English. Yes! Spanish. Yes! French. Yes! German. Yes! Japanese. Yes! Russian. Yes! the human race!” A Student-Athlete Movement What should we make of the Clements-SMU football payola scandal? Bob Slagle, chairman of the Democratic Party in the state, made the most of it politically. In continuing to tolerate the paying of football players while resolving to “phase out” the practice, Clements was acting as a businessman, Slagle said. “He obviously thinks commercial contracts should be honored, even if they are illegal. I just wish he felt that way about his public commitments.” And friends of public education are wondering, naturally, what this guy who approved payoffs to football players is doing trying to tell teachers and professors to get by on less. But the larger question is so vague, it almost seems pointless to mention it. Football is a good game, and young people should play it for their health, for fun, and for the pleasure of winning whenever they do. In Texas, though, football is a mass cult. From high school on the very good football players are excused from the academic standards that all the other students are expected to fulfill and in the frenzy of the season winning becomes the point of having a community. The point of education, however, is not football, but education, and the point of having a community is not bruising conflict, the point is having a good community. Football frenzy is what it is, but seen in the round it’s also a profoundly political phenomenon, distorting values, subordinating mental to physical attainment, making winning more important than fair play, dramatizing and glorifying physical conflict to the detriment of the more reasonable and peaceful modes of being. Ultimately football frenzy is the militarist’s incubator, preparing young men and young women alike for that glorious day when the men go off to war. Southern Methodist University is the right place for the deeper meanings of this scandal to be addressed. According to a story by Nancy Stancill in the Houston Chronicle, the United Methodist Church, while weighing whether to continue supporting SMU’s Perkins School of Theology at the level of about $800,000 a year, will be watching how the university deals with the matter. As it happens an idea has been advanced on the campus that might actually lead to some genuine reform of education-debasing, payola-inducing football. Most Southwest Conference schools have lower admission standards for football players than for all their other students. Last November the Faculty Senate at SMU voted to urge their school’s officials to abolish “quasi-professional athletics” based on such “special admissions” and other privileges for athletes .. Perhaps in response, the SMU board of governors has since required that athletes will have to meet regular standards of admission, but that is not enough. “Many of us would like to explore putting a new league together,” the president of the Faculty Senate, theology professor Leroy Howe, told Stancill. That is an idea worth pursuing: a new football conference whose athletes are all students attending their universities on an equal footing with their fellow students. On that requirement there would be no compromise. One might call the experiment the Southwest Student Athletes League. Started by SMU in transcendance of its present humiliation, such a movement might spread across the country. Meanwhile, at UT .. . Governor Clements’ three members of the UT System board of regents for 1987 are the president of a motel chain, a real estate developer, and an independent oil and gas producer. What do motels, real estate deals, and oil and gas wells have to do with higher learning? Something. Any university can benefit from having a few business-experienced regents. But UT, as a sanctuary for higher learning protected from political and corporate intrusion, started going downhill when a series of postwar governors stacked and re-stacked the board of regents with business-minded conservatives. From Coke Stevenson onward, the governors have knowingly slanted UT to the right by filling the board with conservatives. This political debasement of the UT System continues headlong under Bill Clements. It’s difficult to accept, but the only way to redeem the independence of public higher education in Texas is to elect governors who understand that real universities require real freedom. R.D. 8 APRIL 3, 1987
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