Student athletes have exclusive access to some academic resources. But is that fair?
For students it’s a familiar scenario: It’s three in the morning, empty mugs of coffee are standing amongst the mess of papers on a desk. The studying never seems to end. Class itself gets in the way of cramming. Not far down the street, another person is up too. They aren’t much different, but this person just came home from a basketball game. Drenched in sweat and exhausted from physical exertion, student athletes also have to study for exams. Although it may seem that student athletes have a studying advantage because of dedicated tutors, reality is not so sweet.
Many students have extracurricular activities that take up time throughout the day. Maybe they have a job and are constantly working. Or maybe they just have a large class load on their shoulders. For student athletes, who may have five or more hours of practice a day, games throughout the week, a full course load, and meetings they must attend, staying up on their grades can be quite a challenge.
And though students and athletes have different commitment, they all need access to services that help them learn and study. There are two specific sources on campus that cater to the needs of students and the needs of student athletes alike.
Towering above other campus buildings on Kincaid St. is Prince Lucien-Campbell Hall (PLC), a blocky building dimpled with a seemingly endless amount of windows. At the corner of 13th St. and Agate St. is the Jaqua Center, a modern glass building, surrounding by a serene, bubbling infinity pool. Inside PLC is the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC), a hub of academic resources for every student on campus. And within the Jaqua Center are resources designed for athletes such as tutoring and academic advising. While the Jaqua is specifically for student athletes, the TLC is tailored for anyone who needs academic help.
This seems unfair to some students and professors around the school. They envy the Jaqua center and those who get to use it. With its superb academic services for student athletes and beautiful building, the Jaqua Center makes it seem as if the University of Oregon is playing into the game of favoritism, but according to several student athletes, the Jaqua is anything but that. Matt Hidalgo is a student at the University of Oregon, majoring in general social science with an emphasis in crime, law, and society. But this isn’t the only thing he works hard at — Matt is a redshirt pole-vaulter, and a good one at that. With many awards and height records under his belt, he works hard to balance his collegiate academic career and athletic success. That’s why the Jaqua has been so important in his life.
“The practicing hours are really long so it’s really nice to have that support,” he says. “We have up to five hour practices multiple times a week, so it’s extremely busy.” The Jaqua gives student athletes like Hidalgo a quiet place to study and tutoring for those who need it.
“Fortunately enough, my grades are good enough to where I’m not required to have tutors anymore. But they make it available to us if we want a tutor we can have a session assigned to us with someone to help us out before quizzes or exams,” he says. Even with such demanding schedules, athletes are expected to maintain a high GPA, and the Jaqua Center helps them do so.
Another student athlete, Carlyle Garrick, a redshirt linebacker, also finds that the Jaqua is incredibly helpful for the strenuous schedules athletes have. As an advertising major, he uses the building’s computer lab for digital work and used tutoring services as a freshman.
Lexi Petersen, a point guard on the women’s basketball team and journalism major, says the services offered to her through the Jaqua have been quite useful as well. “The Jaqua provides so many opportunities for student athlete, especially being a female athlete, it gives me more opportunities for when basketball ends.” She currently uses the Jaqua as a quiet environment for studying and place to hang out in between classes.
On the other side of campus, the story is a bit different. The TLC is one of the campus’ greatest resources for academic help. With a wide range of tutoring, career, financial, and academic services, students of every kind flock there. The TLC has served over 2,000 students for tutoring services this fall alone and about 4,600 students last academic year. Susan Lesyk, the director of the TLC, oversees all that goes on and works with a team to provide these amenities to students. With a large demand for help during test periods and finals week, they do a great job trying to cater to as many students as possible.
Kim Lilley, the tutor coordinator and office manager, says that math and writing are the biggest demand. “We are able to do tutoring for classes up through calculus, and we offer several writing circles and programs.”
Both Lesyk and Lilley agree that math tutoring is a huge need on campus due to its importance in many different career paths. “It’s a gatekeeper to some majors. If you don’t pass then you have to readjust your plans,” Lesyk says. Due to this they have been holding pop-up math labs once a week in residence halls.
Both wish that the TLC could provide more services for students for free and provide one-on-one tutoring. Yet with a publicly funded school, it is challenging to receive money to offer services for free, regardless of what type of student service it is. Lesyk hopes that the TLC will someday be able to provide what the Jaqua can. “I do wish we had some of the services the Jaqua offers,” she says. “But I think it’s a really beautiful thing that they have over there. And I think it’s great they have those services for students.”