The Crimson White

A defensive mentality: save it for sports

Wesley Vaughn

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Nick Saban’s football team and Anthony Grant’s basketball team pride themselves on tough defense. Both buy into a defensive mentality that opposing teams fear and announcers drool over. In sports, holding an opponent to as few points as possible is vital to winning.

In life though, a mindset of denying the progress of others for perceived self-protection obstructs the positive evolvement of society. Our university has seemingly bought into the same defensive mentality of our sports teams when it comes to this progress.

Last week, The Crimson White published the racial outlook of the Honors College, which called attention to a lack of African-American enrollment relative to the percentage enrolled in the University. I do not know the reason for this discrepancy or how to solve it, but I do know how to respond to it. And, unfortunately, the Honors College denied the need for reevaluation – again.

When I wrote a column in the fall warning the Honors College Assembly to tread lightly with its potential power, some members instantly defended the HCA instead of considering it as constructive criticism and analysis.

The same response occurred again last week when one member ignorantly responded by writing, “The Honors College should not have to chase students around, begging them to enroll.” No, it should not beg students to enroll. It should educate students about the Honors College and make sure that students of all backgrounds feel comfortable within Nott Hall. Denying a potential problem is just as moronic as ignoring a known problem.

Last week also saw Thomas Friedman visit campus to talk about globalization, Middle Eastern politics and energy policy. After making sure his paycheck was in the mail, he called it a “travesty” that our University lacked even one solar panel. Thank goodness he never saw ten Hoor’s newly tarred roof; a sad fact since energy policy analysts triumph the energy savings of white roofs.

But I am sure that the University has some random statistics that rank us highly among other universities for energy consumption. They always do. Instead of admitting work has to be done, we love to emphasize how far we have come – or refuse to speak on the matter.

Take the recent racial incident as an example. President Witt’s campus-wide e-mail created the public controversy, but the official response was taken behind closed doors.

For a university with one of the best public relations schools in the nation – which teaches complete transparency in most, if not all, instances – this  is painfully ironic.

Maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe students are supposed to just pay for the rising costs of tuition, graduate in four years with the continually lowering maximum semester credits, deal with the campus issues every other past UA student body has faced, try to enact change, fail, become frustrated and apathetic, quit trying and graduate. Yeah, that sounds about right.

That’s what a great defense does: it frustrates the offense. A Robert Lester interception or a JaMychal Green block can demoralize an opponent and alter his future game plan. A physical or rhetorical barrier to campus change does exactly the same.

Though our football and basketball team prides themselves on tough defense, that mentality is for the football field and basketball court, not for campus.


Wesley Vaughn is a junior majoring in public relations and political science. His column runs on Wednesday.


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A defensive mentality: save it for sports