Thursday, October 12, 2017

Athletics comes to Misnomer U.

So we have an athletics program now. This is new; or rather, new-old, since the program has returned after a hiatus of fifteen years or so, but at any rate, this is the first time I've had to deal with student athletes since I was hired.

I was hoping it would be better than I remembered. It isn't: there are still lots of annoying bureaucratic forms to fill out tracking athletes' progress and grades, even though they're mostly online now, and all of these absences that we MUST accommodate, even though the student is inevitably missing important stuff. And there is still an astounding level of apathy among most of the student-athletes toward anything remotely academic, coupled with an insistence that they MUST MUST MUST get at least a B. (Back in the good old days, the apathetic students were as apathetic about grades as they were about everything else; adding athletics to the mix seems to amp up their extrinsic motivation without doing a bloody thing about the intrinsic part, which is the part that counts. So, for example, they will insist loudly that they don't want to do peer review in comp class because they want MY opinion, and then flake out on a round of required conferences which is their big opportunity to get my opinion because they can't be bothered to complete a draft on time.)

One of them stole a paper draft from his roommate, which is a type of academic dishonesty I haven't seen before. (He "rewrote" it, but not well enough to cover his tracks.) Somehow, this seems like a much, much more serious level of wrongdoing than ripping a paper off the Internet.

And it feels like there is a kind of, I dunno, cult of performative apathy in the one class I have that's majority-athlete? That happens sometimes -- students feed off each other, and a small critical mass of visibly participatory or non-participatory students can set the tone for a whole class -- but it's noticeably worse with this group. (Due to the demographics of Misnomer U., it's very rare to have a class that's majority-male; this one is, and I feel like there's a crucial difference between the way guys act when they're trying to impress girls and when they're trying to impress each other. At any rate, I occasionally read complaints from people at other schools about male students talking too much and dominating the classroom, and this phenomenon is so utterly foreign to my own experience that it feels like a dispatch from Bizarro World. Where are all of these guys who WANT to talk in class? Can we please, please get a few of them over here?)

Grump. These kids today!