Sep 172006
Authors: Ryan Speaker

Last year, President Penley asked for an extra $2 million for the athletics budget and said if student fees were not increased, he would simply take it from the general fund. I was unimpressed with such behavior.

I was always under the impression that a university was to focus on academics, and I did not think it was unreasonable to ask the athletics department to do what other departments short of funds were forced to do: Buckle down. Maybe ask the players to pick up some of the tabs; maybe they could pay their own travel and hotel fees.

It got its $2 million.

Now Penley is telling us to not be normal. I love not being normal, and for a moment, I was excited to hear this idea of not settling into the hum-drummery of average academic institutions. But then he mentioned athletics.

Really? Is this how we’re going to become an above-average school – by promoting our athletic department?

But I thought other schools did it that way… Maybe we can be above average in other places. Maybe health care will be offered free under our student fees, or maybe it will be expanded beyond accidental coverage. Maybe we are going to see an increase in the number of classrooms, or at least see improvements in the ones we already have.

Maybe CSU is going to be different by saying no to corporate sponsors. Maybe we’re going to tell Pepsi and others, “No, I’m sorry. We feel your sponsorship may have too great an effect on how we write policies and conduct ourselves. You have to go. Or at least you will no longer have exclusive claims on fulfilling the liquid cravings of our above-average students.”

Maybe Penley will differentiate CSU by telling donators, “We’ll put your name on a building, and we’ll hang a picture of you in the lobby. Other than that, if you give us money, it will go toward a broad project or program, and we’ll make sure it’s used that way, but you get no say beyond that in how we conduct ourselves.”

Penley also failed to address the concerns over Fum’s Song. He previously stated, “Fum McGraw’s legacy is not the song.”

Beyond that, he has said relatively little. Can CSU embrace greatness while needlessly mocking other academic and athletic institutions? If we are to move forward as a school, it seems necessary that Penley denounce the song. If he does not think the song is so bad, he should say so; then we would know his speech was mere rhetoric.

Alas, CSU will “strive for its unrealized potential” by following in the same footsteps it has in the past.

We are like drunks, saying, “I have a problem, I want to change. But the only way I’m willing to change is if I can keep drinking.” I do not see the greatness Penley has in mind, given the things he has (and has not) discussed. CSU is not going to be great following the path that it has; we have seen where that takes us.

I am all for seeing CSU improve and seeing our school rise above the fray. But let’s not pretend we will be able to do this by relying on athletics and corporate sponsors.

Ryan Speaker is a senior history major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to

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