Editorial: Top 5 things we learned from Michael Crow

Each semester, The State Press editorial board is granted a meeting with ASU President Michael Crow. Here are the most important things we learned from
him this week.

One of the more contentious topics on campus this semester was the athletic fee bill, which gained student government approval in a manner that violated the organizations’ own bylaws.

Crow stated support for the bill’s intentions, saying that ASU has a “systemic shortfall in the structural financial design (of the athletic department).”

The mandatory $150-per-year fee would supplement this revenue shortfall.

The State Press reported on Nov. 21 that USG was violating its own bylaws and may have flouted Arizona Open Meeting Laws, but Crow said he was unaware that there had been any issues with the bill’s approval process.

“I don’t know what the reason would be to have student senate meetings that are not noticed. … That just surprises me,” Crow said.

Athletic fees are not uncommon, he said, as schools fund many sports that do not make money. Funding the athletics department helps the University remain competitive, he said.

“The institution strives for its academic identity, but it also strives to play Stanford University in the Pac-12 championship game on national television. … We’d like to compete against Stanford in every possible way,” Crow said.

Institutions like Stanford or the University of Texas have athletic budgets that dwarf ASU’s. Crow said UT’s budget is around $150 million, compared to ASU’s $60 million.

Former Sun Devil Athletics Director Steve Patterson, who left for UT Austin in October, is receiving a substantially higher salary there.

“They have a different view of athletics than we do,” Crow said. “They believe they should spend anything, no matter what, to win. They pay their football coach $5 or $6 million a year. … They offered Steve Patterson a tripling of his salary, beyond what we pay.”

Even so, Patterson’s move surprised Crow.

“We had just renegotiated (Patterson’s) contract. … Someone sent me an article that Sports Illustrated had that said that Patterson was on their list at the University of Texas. Patterson, in his contract, was prohibited from talking to the University of Texas without our permission.… He couldn’t talk to them or the University of Arizona,” Crow said. “The week before (Patterson came to me), he had said to me that he wasn’t talking to them. Then he comes into my office Monday, and he says that they flew this fleet of jet over with all these folks … all these old friends of his … and they made this big offer.”

Crow said that Patterson’s replacement will need to be a “non-traditionalist” who is not looking to “move up the chain” and “jack up (their) salary,” and that he was disappointed that Patterson left.

“We still had a lot left to do,” Crow said.

One hot topic in both the national and local political scenes is whether “DREAMers” — young people who were brought into the country illegally by their parents — should be classified as legal residents while determining whether they could be charged in-state tuition.

Crow said he was supportive of allowing DREAMers access to higher education but that ASU must remain “100 percent consistent with the intent and letter of the law.”

While some Arizona institutions, most notably the Maricopa Community College District, accept federal deferred action proceedings as proof of an individual’s lawful presence in the U.S. Crow said ASU’s legal analysis concluded deferred action proceedings and proof of legal residence “do not mean the same thing.”

Crow also discussed negative portrayals of ASU in the media, especially a Sept. 27 editorial in the Arizona Republic that referred to ASU students as “badly-behaved brats.”

This came after an incident at The District on Apache apartment complex, where an ASU student was found in an elevator after being severely beaten. Many media outlets swiftly began to perpetuate the “incomplete and stereotyped image” of the ASU student body as immature, entitled and violent — stereotypes which are demonstrably untrue.

“Look at our statistics,” Crow said. “Yes, we have issues, but they are issues that are not unmanageable … (and) all students are held accountable.”

Crow discussed the importance of collaboration in preventing violence on ASU campuses and around the Valley.

“We have a number of behavioral issues in and around the University, and they’re complex things that we’re working on,” he said. “We need as much help and ideas as possible to be able to create the safest environment that we can create.”

He was quick to address an ASU Police campus security policy that contained language that could be perceived as sexist, advising female ASU students to avoid parties with more males than females to lower their chances of being sexually assaulted. The language has been removed since the Monday meeting.

“If there are ways in which the messages are not going to accomplish what people are attempting to accomplish, which is to give safety tips to students, then we need to go back and look at that language,” Crow said.

 

 

 

Want to join the conversation? Send an email to opiniondesk.statepress@gmail.com. Keep letters under 300 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.