Basic logic has been around for quite a while. And so have the fallacies that many fall into, including the idea that correlation does not imply causation. Apparently Steve Duin decided to ignore these lessons in the most recent Oregonian piece with little logical backing, titled At UO, arena seats trump freshman beds. Now, we've been through all of this before, but I'd like to dive in one more time. Steve starts of his piece with this gripping narrative.
At the same time the University of Oregon is plowing $245 million into a new basketball arena and its underground parking garage, the university has informed 800 incoming freshmen that it can't find or afford housing for them on campus.
And he then ends it with another gem:
But right now UO isn't into full disclosure. In a January letter to the Legislature, Frohnmayer insisted "academic buildings, not athletic facilities, have been our major priority for the last decade." Of the $480 million in completed or developing projects, he wrote, "more than 75 percent has been for facilities that enhance the academic mission."
But Frohnmayer playfully didn't include the new arena, which may open before a few of those academic marvels. Toss in that $245 million and Oregon will soon be devoting half of its construction budget to its pampered athletes and boosters . . . and adding another 800 freshman to the ranks of the homeless in Eugene.
This is a pet peeve of mine, but if you're going to make these arguments, back them up with substance. There is no substance in this article, just emotionalism. Just because both of these things happened at similar times does not mean that one caused the other, or that these two issues are even competing. Yet, this classic Non Sequitur was the entire basis for the article. When did this become OK for a journalist?
I think we would all agree that it's too bad the freshman are not able to live in the dorms. This is very important to college life. And it is unfortunate that this was allowed to happen. However, to even claim that athletics trumps academics is patently false. This thinking totally ignores the basics of university funding sources.
There is no evidence that the "pampered athletes and boosters" success is coming at the expense of the general student body. Yet, these assumptions are made, because of a perceived inequality. And so we see the same articles, over and over, lacking any factual or logical basis.
UPDATE: For a bit more on this, see Dave's post below. I agree with what he said, the dorm crisis does need to be solved, though blaming athletics (without logic or basic facts on your side) will not solve the problem. And one other comment on the use of state bonds, I would say that bonds for academics would trump bonds for athletics, however, there are other factors in play, including the ability to pay those bonds back. Others may disagree, but I don't believe that the state should be funding these building projects.