Patrick Maks checks in with some of the latest in Columbus. You guys will love this one. Be sure to follow our Buckeye correspondent on Twitter.
In an incredibly brilliant move, Ohio State, on Wednesday, announced that they will start issuing all student-athletes iPads starting next fall. This proclamation came on the same day the university decided to raise tuition 3.2 percent.
According to The Lantern, the department of athletics has budgeted $400,000 for the iPads to distribute to the some 1,100 student-athletes (or athlete-students in some cases). It’s all apparently an effort in conjunction with OSU’s new Digital First Program “which looks to transform the educational experience on campus through technology.”
As such, to kick off the initiative, OSU will issue about 500 iPads to select athletic teams this fall. While much of the specifics — like who will get them first — are still a mystery, the devices will be distributed on an “issuance and retrieval basis” meaning the iPads need to be returned upon the end of an athlete’s career at OSU.
Here are more of the deets:
Who’s Paying For It?
According to the press release on OhioStateBuckeyes.com, “the athletics department will fund the initial phase while looking for support through development opportunities over the next several years.”
Why issue some 1,100 student-athletes iPads?
In that same release, Dr. David Graham, Ohio State assistant provost for student-athlete success, said:
“The use of iPads will allow us [OSU] to find creative and innovative ways to enhance our tutoring and mentoring services for student-athletes.”
Additionally, Graham said the iPads will be “preloaded with athletics department materials currently provided to student-athletes in paper or book form.”
Again, from the release, faculty athletics representative Dr. John Bruno said:
“The state-of-the-art initiative of providing our student-athletes with iPads is consistent with this trend and, with the academic apps available, will allow our student-athletes to continue to keep pace with our student body.”
What I and Most of Us “Regular” Students Don’t Understand
For most rational thinking people, reasons why some students are outraged should be obvious when OSU is handing out iPads like fun-size M&M packets on Halloween while steadily pushing tuition up another 3.2 percent (and 3.5 percent on other things like room and board).
It’s a slap in the face for many and creates a perception that’s already out there that the university bows to Gene Smith and the athletics department’s wishes. The argument from supporters is that student-athletes put in 35 or 40 hours of work a week—almost the equivalent to a full-time job.
I can’t possibly agree with that logic when I see just “regular” students who actually work some 40 hours a week at unpaid internships. They bust their butt just as much as any student-athlete at OSU. Athlete or not, at OSU, every student is working extremely hard in one way or another.
By OSU singling the student-athlete portion of some 43,000 undergrads, it feels like, you know, to us “regular” students that they’re favoring the kids who are here on partial or full scholarships.
Not to mention, we’re just talking about the average student-athlete at OSU—not those playing high-profile sports. Undoubtedly, those athletes have extra benefits not available to the general population (calm down—that’s not to say they’re improper in any sort of way).
I’m not going to say that OSU has a tendency of placing a higher priority on athletes than the rest of the student body because I don’t know that to be true. But dropping 400k on what’s really an accessory more than anything for 1,100 of the 56,867 total students at OSU doesn’t do a lot to work against that notion.