What we’ve heard lately about the performance of our college students has been anything but reassuring. Incidents of cheating are frequent; dropout levels disturbing. Time spent in class preparation continues to shrink while drinking and socializing remain excessive. Changes of all sorts have been suggested to ensure the college years become more rigorous, intellectually challenging and rewarding. To that end I offer a modest proposal, one intended to reorder collegiate priorities and set in motion academic reforms sorely needed.
Why, I’ve long wondered, have most all colleges chosen names for their athletic teams that have absolutely no bearing on their school’s intellectual pursuits and primary scholarly objectives? Instead, they’ve selected nicknames that are consistently unimaginative or simply offer us a compendium of the animal kingdom. Thus, as most will recognize, we have Cornhuskers, Sooners, Blue Devils, the Fighting Irish, Spartans, Buckeyes and Boilermakers, as well as an endless selection of Lions, Tigers, Panthers, Rams, Gators, Badgers, Wildcats, Huskies, Razorbacks, Eagles, Bruins and Wolverines.
We must change all this, employ team nicknames that represent and reinforce the serious business that constitutes a college education. If organized athletics has a place on campus it should remind students why they’re there. Thus, it’s time we saw the Boston College Brainiacs, California Cerebrals, the Michigan Mentalists, the San Diego Scholars, the Siena Skeptics, Idaho Intellectuals, Trinity Thinkers, Toledo Test Takers, Stanford Smart Alecs and Brigham Young Bookworms take the field.
Be assured that such changes will likely usher in a new sense of purpose for undergraduates who, when they graduate, will now be intellectually equipped and thus better prepared for the serious challenges and opportunities that await them.