In a meeting with The State Press on Thursday, Nov. 9, ASU President Michael Crow discussed topics related to University statements, student-athletes, arts funding, ethics development and the possibility of an LGBTQ+ resource center.
ASU’s statement in support of Israel, free speech on campus
Crow was asked about the University's strong statement on the conflicts between Israel and Palestine, clarifying that ASU's statement is specifically condemning Hamas, and not Palestine entirely.
"Mostly, we worry about our own business, and we worry about things that are going on here," Crow said. "It's a very complicated set of issues and a very complicated history on many, many fronts."
Financial trouble at the University of Arizona, responsibility to help
Considering the University of Arizona is undergoing what the Arizona Board of Regents calls a "financial crisis," Crow was asked about ASU's responsibility to assist.
He said that while universities should be "as supportive as we can be when we work together," financial responsibilities are independent.
"All universities have their own cultures, their own systems, their own management," Crow said.
"You know, each of us are responsible for our own financial outcomes."
Student-athlete compensation and conference realignment
Given how profitable sports are for universities, efforts are being made to bring some of that money back to the student-athletes who help earn it. With rumors circulating nationwide about student-athletes potentially being paid as employees of universities, Crow made it clear that the change is not something he will be behind.
"I don't support it. I hope that we can find another pathway," Crow said. "This is a college. These are college students."
Since not all college sports are objectively profitable, Crow said the money from the University's larger sports such as football or basketball is necessary to support smaller sports, and if students want to make money, their name, image and likeness are theirs to use as they wish. Crow said he supported NIL
Lawsuits are currently ongoing that seek to open the door for potential student-athlete compensation, but that does not diminish ASU’s efforts to oppose them.
"It doesn't mean that we won't lose the lawsuits, or it doesn't mean that somebody might not change the system," Crow said. "But if so, then we will be working to undo that."
In terms of ASU's move to the Big 12 in 2024, Crow said he was disappointed that ASU will not compete against universities in California. But, he said moving to the Big 12 with Arizona, Colorado and Utah is "very positive" for the University, especially its smaller sports.
"It's going to be a very good conference for us, and our some of our sports, like wrestling, will benefit immensely," Crow said. "We think overall, it's a very positive outcome for us."
There is ongoing litigation between the ten universities, including ASU, leaving the Pac-12 and the two universities staying in the conference, Oregon State and Washington State, about whether the departing schools should have a say in conference assets and negotiations. Crow said he could not comment too much on it, but he said he sees himself as a board member of the Pac-12.
"Do I see myself that way? Certainly," Crow said. "We're still a member of the conference until we're not, and we're still having meetings and still getting together. But, there's a conflict going on because 10 schools are exiting and two schools are not."
Funding the arts
Crow was asked about the University's perceived lack of funding for the arts compared to STEM fields. About comparing the two to begin with, he said "it's not an apple and an apple."
"The English faculty, they don't need massive research buildings," Crow said. "Some faculty members have research labs the size of the floor of this building, (for) one faculty member. An English faculty member would take the corner of this room and be happy with that as their space, so it's just not the same."
Despite this, and the fact that ASU produces more graduates in liberal arts than engineering according to Crow, many students still perceive a disparity in support, both academically and professionally, between the two fields.
"It's not an over-emphasis on engineering," Crow said. "It's a highly visible, strong emphasis."
Ethics lags behind innovation
Despite its strong emphasis and defending its No. 1 in innovation title for the ninth year in a row, ASU does not require ethics coursework for all of its up-and-coming innovators.
"One of the areas where we're not where I would like us to be is in the ethical components of our engineering school," Crow said. "Not that they're unethical — it's just that we need more baseline training."
Ultimately, the concern is that current ethical studies programs do not have the reach to cover the entire University.
"We have built a number of ethics-oriented programs related to STEM out of the law school, and that's engaged with some of the folks, but it's not uniform yet," Crow said. "What we're after is, how do we accelerate these programs and ultimately make them uniform?"
In terms of progress, he also cited the creation of the School for the Future of Innovation in Society inside the College of Global Futures. However, the school recently hosted a panel that failed to include key environmental and international perspectives, highlighting the need for increased ethical emphasis.
LGBTQ+ students call for a physical center
In a meeting with LGBTQ+ students on campus, a desire for a physical resource center, similar to the one at the University of Arizona, was expressed.
However, Crow said that this concept creates an exclusionary environment for non-applicable students.
"You can walk for a long time before you see a building that says chemistry on the side of the building," Crow said. "What we're trying to do is to create an environment in which there aren't these little enclaves."
ASU's Multicultural Communities of Excellence program currently offers physical spaces on all four of its main campuses that can be reserved by students or faculty; however, it does not offer any resources specific to LGBTQ+ students.
Edited by Alysa Horton, Sadie Buggle and Caera Learmonth.