Crow talks past, future for ASU in spring meeting
On April 21, The State Press editorial board met with ASU President Michael Crow. We asked, and he answered, questions ranging from where the University's been to where it's headed.
All five student governments endorsed a $150-per-year athletic fee last semester, but the Tempe Undergraduate Student Government broke its own bylaws in passing it. Following up on that debacle, Crow stressed transparency. "There shouldn't be anything that is secret or unavailable for you to attend," he said.
However, after talking to the Tempe USG Senate, his take was that "... there were votes held in each of these bodies. What we heard was that there was a majority of support. What we heard was that there was a recommendation from each of the five presidents," he said. This does not reflect the botched process that we have reported on before and certainly does not support an open democratic process.
Crow thinks the smoking ban on campus was successful and defended the new fees and regulations associated with the walk-only zones in Tempe. Crow does not see a fee for smoking in the future, even though he gave us the same exact line concerning the walk-only zone enforcement last fall.
When asked about the possible addition of ACHA national champion ASU hockey as an NCAA Division I sport, Crow said that while the money needed to support the program would be a roadblock, it wasn't the biggest. As ASU is already "behind the eight ball" in Title IX equality for women's sports, Crow said the next sports the University is looking to add will be women's sports, specifically, crew and lacrosse.
"We're compliant but not as compliant as we could or should be (in Title IX)," Crow said. He said despite the hockey team's success, he isn't sure what the next men's sport to be added would be, if the University ever even gets the funds to make it possible.
While the hockey team is enjoying success at the club level, several ASU sports are struggling at the NCAA level. Crow said the men's basketball team had met expectations by simply making the NCAA tournament, and thus, buying head coach Herb Sendek a season-long evaluation period for athletic director Ray Anderson to decide on the future of the coach. We were slightly taken aback that Crow's expectations for the basketball program was simply to make the NCAA tournament, despite having arguably the best point guard in the Pac-12 surrounded with even more talent than the season before.
Lack of success on the court isn't the only thing plaguing the program, though. It lost three players to transfers in this offseason alone: Egor Koulechov, Brandan Kearney and Calaen Robinson.
Wrestling joins men's basketball as programs in states of turmoil. After limited success under coach Shawn Charles and even more turnover than the basketball team — five wrestlers left the team between the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons — Anderson and Charles came to a mutual agreement that Charles should resign. Crow was complimentary of athletic director Ray Anderson's first hiring of wrestling coach Zeke Jones,
Crow also stressed the importance of the growing international student body here at ASU. ASU has about 7,000 international students and will grow to around 10,000, Crow said. "I think ASU is popular because of the large number of majors we have," he said.
In response to the minimum TOEFL score (61) that ASU requires, Crow said "We have some pretty significant English language specialists at ASU. ... They believe that that score allows success."
Crow was hopeful and seemed to express the danger that drugs and alcohol have on current students. "They become afflicted with these bad choices. And these choices have to do with drugs and alcohol."
"I'm not your parent, but it's hard for us to see all of the negative things that can happen. ... So we're working very hard to try to figure out how to increase safety for our students. We're working out how to enhance drug and alcohol education," he said.
We hope to see ASU's goals reached so that people can be safe while they attend ASU. It weighs on all of us that tragedies continue to afflict ASU.
Crow stressed the difference between sexual assault and sexual misconduct at ASU, clearing the air in terms of the different vocabulary used to describe misconduct. "In Barrett, we have had no reports of sexual assault. We have had reports of sexual misconduct," he said.
We asked Crow if consent was possible considering the power inequality between a professor and a student. "Consent is a definition in the law. At the same time, I recognize what you're saying, which is when a faculty member who has a position of power or influence over a student becomes involved with a student, is it appropriate? The answer is no. Is it legal? Again, that's a matter for the police."
Crow essentially did not want to deal with any legal issues relating to consent — only allegations of misconduct. The University doesn't get involved in these cases where "consent" is concerned because it's not the University's jurisdiction to discipline violations of Arizona law. In the future, we hope to see all allegations of misconduct — and abuse — dealt with in full.
While Crow was supportive of the concerns of LGBTQ interests on campus, he used language like "life choice." The commonly accepted thinking on the LGBTQ community is that it is not a choice. The problem with using incorrect words like "choice" means that the language that ASU is willing to fix will not be correct and inclusive. We look forward to the continued push by the University to accept all people — no matter the kind of life lived.
"We are obviously and strongly supportive of everyone's decision to advance their life choices without the interference of other people," he said. "Let's make certain that there's no reason that a person can discriminate against you or hold something against you because of some aspect of your personal life choices."
Looking forward, ASU is extremely concerned with the "pipeline" of qualified Arizona residents coming to ASU. Crow stressed the need to invest in K-12 education in order to not drop the ASU admissions standards. ASU admits the top 20 to 25 percent of a high school graduating class.
The Arizona Board of Regents set a "gold target" of retaining 86 percent of all freshmen, while Arizona's universities currently retain 78 percent of freshmen. He called this "a significant challenge but reachable."
However, Crow wants to invest in Arizona schools so that people can come to ASU, a research intensive university, but only if they're qualified. "Should every high school graduate go to a research university? The answer is no."
The problem, then, is investing in the state's schools so that people can receive the shining light of education that is ASU. Crow sees the smaller pool of acceptance to keep the retention rate high as keeping those who already don't have access to education from the university.
Let's hope that the continued efforts on the part of Crow's administration lets everyone who deserves to be here come and learn at ASU.
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