The student government’s push for an artillery cannon to be used at athletic events (such as football games) is described as an effort to promote school spirit and create a new tradition but as the university currently stands, a cannon purchase would be unnecessary, frivolous and quite frankly, ridiculous. The university’s efforts to raise $20,000 dollars illustrates a comically skewed sense of priorities.
Last fall, COLFA students and faculty experienced reduced course offerings because of the school’s mismanaged budget. This left many COLFA students frustrated with a lackluster curriculum and many professors without a job. A university’s first charge is to provide its students robust courses that foster academic—not athletic—excellence.
Students attend UTSA to receive an excellent education. Improving our academic experiences is more important than our game-day ones. Getting rowdy at football games is fun, but it’s not the reason we’re here.
Proponents of the cannon claim it’s meant to honor San Antonio as Military City, U.S.A. However, this is not something that would be unique to UTSA. 48 NCAA division I schools have military cannons, including UT, Texas A&M and University of North Texas. Are we really trying to build traditions here or emulate those of other universities with older and larger football programs?
Student Government Business Affairs Chair Brett Davidoff said in the campaign video for the artillery cannon that “this will truly improve the UTSA Rowdy brand by better crowd participation at our home football games.” The Rowdy brand should focus on academic excellence, not game day attendance. Academics, not artillery, would put UTSA closer to Tier One—a longtime goal of the university.
A report by the Texas Tribune analyzed figures from reports filed with the NCAA in 2017 that reflect statistics from the 2015-16 school year. Overall, UTSA’s Athletic Department had a revenue of $12,069,736 and a loss of $14,374,222. Before investing more money in sports and spectacles, university officials and student leaders should survey students and faculty on how they would wish to improve their campus. A cannon would likely be very low on the list.
A more effective use of money could be placed in marketing campaigns and utilizing the resources UTSA already has at its disposal.
The promotion of an artillery cannon comes ill-timed. The budget constraints have affected students’ and faculties’ lives in serious ways. The diminishing curriculum and COLFA faculty should be addressed first.
School pride and tradition improve the college experience, but purchasing a $20,000 cannon seems like putting the horse before the cart. Investing in big budget items distracts from the university’s real issues, especially the loss in football revenue. Prioritizing athletics over curriculum harms students. A cannon will not make UTSA’s curriculum more flexible and robust. A cannon will not work to tackle sexual assault on campus. A cannon will not elevate UTSA to Tier One status. A cannon will not ease students’ struggles, such as expensive parking and administrative transparency. A cannon is the last thing UTSA needs at a time when the Texas legislature threatens to cut universities’ funding.
SGA could use its resources and platform to solve real problems on-campus, improve the lives of students in meaningful ways and establish traditions that will forever be unique to UTSA.