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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Jarvis: The U Loves Football More Than its Community

The U must stop throwing its students and staff under the bus in favor of football.
The+Rice-Eccles+Stadium+during+the+Utah+vs.+Florida+game+in+Salt+Lake+City%2C+Utah%2C+on+Thursday%2C+Aug.31%2C+2023.+%28Photo+Madeline+Van+Wagenen+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Madeline van Wagenen
The Rice-Eccles Stadium during the Utah vs. Florida game in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Thursday, Aug.31, 2023. (Photo Madeline Van Wagenen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

With the season’s first football game pushing classes onto Zoom and enforcing parking restrictions, the University of Utah reminded us where its true priorities lie: football.

The U disrespects its students and faculty by prioritizing football over learning and commuter necessities such as parking. This is unacceptable and must change.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Though the U’s core values include student success, teaching excellence, diversity and leadership, we consistently see that football overrides these values.

The U recently switched from the Pac-12 to the Big 12 — both major college football conferences. University President Taylor Randall posited the Big 12 as a step forward. The U’s “focus and mission is to provide world-class education, research, service and patient care. Joining the Big 12 accelerates our progress in all four areas,” wrote Randall in a statement.

While football makes the U money and benefits its reputation, a better way to accelerate progress would be putting money and efforts directly into these areas rather than into football.

But the U’s obsession with football is all about money. In fiscal 2022, the football program profited $35.7 million.

Additionally, it puts millions into football-related projects, which it’s expected to be paying off until 2040. One of these projects is the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center. Created in 2013, it cost $34 million to build and includes custom ventilated lockers, flat-screen televisions and a two-tiered observation deck. Football players and staff enjoy this luxury while students in the College of Humanities, for example, navigate the old and confusing Language and Communication Building without relief.

The U constantly seeks to improve athletes’ performance and eligibility. This includes separate tutoring on various subjects for student-athletes, even though the Learning Center already provides free tutoring to all students. But the U prizes its athletes specifically.

If that isn’t absurd enough, Kyle Whittingham, the head football coach, makes almost $6 million, which is more than Randall makes. Whittingham also earns a higher salary than Mario Capecchi, the University of Utah’s Nobel laureate — a great asset to the U and contributor to the development of science.

Football Rules the World?

Because the U makes so much money from football, its investments include throwing students, faculty and staff under the bus on game day. It treats us as pawns for its football goals.

The day before the first football game, it began making changes to campus. Many U lots were reserved for football parking, so students or staff who wanted to park had to pay, even if they’d already purchased an expensive parking permit. Parking in lots reserved for football is also more expensive than regular day parking passes.

The U has been doing this for years. In 2021, parking spots reserved for COVID-19 testing were affected by football, and testing appointments were canceled. This sends the impression that the U cares more about football than students’ health, even in the time of a global pandemic.

Parking restrictions for the first football game forced many instructors to hold classes over Zoom. For some professors who haven’t gotten the hang of the technology, this could mean canceling class completely.

Students who pay tuition for in-person classes deserve to be able to attend in person. But football takes this choice away, forcing them to seek other commuting and parking options and base their schedules around games. Some students who commute to class commute to on-campus jobs as well. Changes to campus make it difficult for these commuters to get to work.

The U should prioritize students, who deserve respect. If nothing else, we’ve paid for it.

This Disrespect Isn’t New

Parking is one of the most obvious manifestations of the U’s disrespect toward its community. The university forces commuters and students who live on campus to pay for expensive parking permits, and it keeps raising the prices.

But parking isn’t as simple as paying for a permit. Despite breaking enrollment records each year, there are over 100 fewer parking spots available now than four years ago. The impossible search for parking spots can make people late for work or class. Parking enforcement also poses a safety issue, ticketing students at all hours despite concerns about safety when they park farther away.

The parking crisis particularly harms commuters. The farther you get from campus, the fewer public transportation options to campus are available. This means many commuters can’t rely on TRAX or other public transportation. As a commuter campus, it’s outrageous for the U to neglect commuters this way.

Randall wants to shift the U from a commuter campus to a campus community by doubling campus housing. He also aims to increase enrollment to 40,000. But these goals won’t solve the parking problem, as on-campus housing is often unaffordable, and increasing enrollment will increase the number of cars on campus.

The U leaves students to fend for themselves regarding parking, especially on days with football games. It neglects its community in favor of expensive football buildings and salaries.

I’m tired of the University of Utah prizing football over students and staff. It needs to start showing us that we matter and that our education does too.

 

[email protected]

@carolinegjarvis

View Comments (3)
About the Contributors
Caroline Jarvis
Caroline Jarvis, Opinion Writer
(she/they) Caroline Jarvis is an opinion writer studying French and communications at the U. She loves reading, doing random art projects, playing guitar and taking care of her plants.
Madeline van Wagenen
Madeline van Wagenen, Photo Director
(she/her) Madeline Van Wagenen is an opinion writer and photographer at the Daily Utah Chronicle. She is a junior studying communications and Spanish. Madeline absolutely loves writing, photography and Billy Joel's entire discography. When she’s not working on projects for the Chrony, she can be found playing card games with friends or curating oddly specific Spotify playlists.

Comments (3)

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  • A

    AaronSep 19, 2023 at 10:13 am

    Fall is by far the worst semester to be on campus, because of football. Every year I have been here, students are definitely de-prioritized in favor of football. I had a class that meets once a week cancel due to the first game.

    It’s saddening that nothing about this situation will change, unless the students make their dissatisfaction known.

    Reply
  • C

    ChrisSep 18, 2023 at 10:51 am

    YES!! Having the University send out emails to professors saying to cancel classes or move them online because of the 1st football game was outrageous. I had one class moved to online and the other cancelled completely. This was the 1st time I heard The U make such a statement that showcased they support football over education. Is this university turning into a sports organization or is it still a place for higher LEARNING?

    Parking is always an issue that is never getting better despite all the new buildings popping up every year. I can’t imagine what it will be like when all the new student housing is completed.

    Reply
  • D

    DianeSep 18, 2023 at 9:10 am

    Well said!! It’s ridiculous.

    Reply