As Will’s noted before, we both attended Southern Tech. I, upon my graduation, found employment at my alma mater, something I continue to this day. It’s something of a feeling of giving back, something of a rewarding experience (with one or two exceptions, the co-workers are fantastic), and government jobs are always good for job security.
One of the more interesting thing about my position is that it allows me to keep an eye on the student body. My department features a number of degree plans, one of which seems to have none of the graduate-degree potential of the others; I like to call this one “Future Gym Teachers of America.” Whereas most of the other degree plans are dominated by bright kids, this one has the singular distinction of being the home of roughly 50% of the high-profile NCAA athletes for the school. I say “athletes”, but we have a slang term as well, especially come the end of semester and class registration time: “Assletes.”
When I was in the dorms, Will and I had a common friend in Karl. Karl’s troubles with this crowd started early. Southern Tech’s system of assigning roommates is affectionately known as “Roommate Russian Roulette”: they have NO overhead for people to shuffle around, they routinely overbook by 10-20% so that people spend the first couple weeks (or worse) living on cots in the common areas, and in some cases they’ve actually quartered students at another university in another part of town, and bussed them back and forth from there to campus. Getting a roommate transfer (even in conditions where items have been stolen or personal property destroyed) is a matter not of convincing them it’s warranted, but of convincing someone else to trade off in another room.
Karl’s original housing was in the worst section of the dorms, and they gave him an “Asslete” for a roommate; this person ran a nighttime barber business out of their dorm room, and Karl was rightly afraid that the “clients” would walk off with his possessions. This had a highly negative effect on Karl’s studies, but fortunately didn’t last long enough to give him too major of a problem.
When Karl managed (a couple months later) to transfer into the better dorms by moving into the room next door as my suitemate, his studies noticeably improved, because he was able to be in his room with his books and study. This lasted for approximately 1 and a half years.
Then, the housing authority “mysteriously lost” his housing re-signing documents, after cashing his deposit check. They stuck another less-savory individual in Karl’s slot, and moved him to the worst dorm in the place - a dorm known informally as the “Athletics Dorm” but more often referred to in a derogatory reference to a famous movie serial killer the dorm might have been named after. He was shoehorned into a three-person suite, the two others in the place being some of the worst, and yet somehow most representative, examples the Athletics program ever had to offer.
The idea of “College” for Assletes in the Athletics dorm was late-night parties, beer, and skanky girls; basically, it was impossible for Karl to even be in the room, let alone study. He took to spending most of his time in Hugh and Will’s suite, but not managing to study (because his books were in his own room and he usually didn’t want to go back to risk confrontation long enough to get them); at least half the time he crashed on a friend’s floor in our building, because one of their drunken friends was sleeping off their latest binge on his bed, or they were having other “things” going on in the room. At one point, they stole his backpack and one of them toted around a non-house-trained puppy for two days in it, then handed him back his (now thoroughly urine-soaked and beyond salvation) bag without even an apology for the damage.
Regrettably, this was common behavior of student athletes, at least of the high-profile ones. Oddly enough, there was (and remains) an inverse relationship between athletic scholarships and athletic achievement; the brighter the kid, the better grades they made, the more likely they hadn’t gotten an athletic scholarship at all.
Every semester, my department deals with at least 4-5 (this past fall it hit double digits) disciplinary actions concerning cheating on tests. Every semester, all but 1 involves one of the “Assletes.” We’ve had security-camera proof of some of these, and it boggles the mind that they think they’d get away with it.
Every semester as well, a good number of professors get phone calls from the Athletics department concerning team members who are about to fail a class, demanding they be given a minimum grade (usually “C”) or else an “Incomplete” so as not to screw their GPA and fall below eligibility guidelines. These aren’t kids who missed class due to road trips representing the school, but simply kids who couldn’t be bothered to show up for their classes, or do their homework, or their projects, and in some cases who didn’t bother to show up for their finals.
Every semester, the Assletes converge upon the Academic Advisors. The name of the position is not a coincidence: the purpose of Advisors is to give ADVICE, to recommend what courses they take, doublecheck their GPA and recommend they retake something if they didn’t understand it, and make sure they are nominally on-track to graduate when appropriate. The Assletes are given a preferential sign-up time to register for classes that actually (these days) begins before the Honors students. They are given the tools to make sure they have the exact schedule they want, to schedule around their daily practices and whatever else they need. Yet every year, they show up and insist that the Advisors, rather than fulfilling an Advisor role, do it all for them.
It always amazes me how it turns out this way. The largest list of these comes from three teams: Football, Men’s Basketball, and Women’s Basketball. We do not (as a general rule, with only the occasional exception) get these from Soccer, or Volleyball, or Golf, or Swimming, or any of the other sports, but at least a sizable minority of the “scholarship” students from those three seem to think they are entitled to a college degree without ever lifting a finger or exercising a brain cell working for it.