Not sexy or scholarly

As a long-time reader of the Paisano, I’ve come to accept a certain amount of immaturity from the writing and articles. However, with this week’s article, “Sexiest Scholars,” the newspaper has reached a new low in its journalistic standard. This is one of the worst articles published in the paper’s name.

There are a few prefaces to my claim that need to be articulated before I continue. First, I don’t care about who did and didn’t make the list. I have good-looking friends and I have not-so good-looking friends, all of which care more about their grades than winning a beauty contest. Second, I don’t know anyone who was or wasn’t nominated for the list. I submit both of these facts as evidence that I have no personal connection to this article short of its connection to my university.

The crux of my argument is two-fold and can be characterized from the title: “Sexiest Scholars.” Let me begin with the word “sexiest,” and I will assume, as the article implies I should, that this means aesthetic appeal. Roadrunners like to put down Texas State University as a school that is once removed from high school, and we’re not far off in that assessment. I graduated from a school in Austin, where the common desire among seniors was to advance to Texas State. This is a school that had to change names in order to disassociate itself from the party atmosphere it had acquired and refocus on higher education. We’re happy to raise our noses at Texas State because of our recently abandoned pursuit of Tier 1 status. It damages our credibility as an institution to therefore reduce our graduating class to a series of pinups and vapid “personality” questions like: “Have you ever had a crush on a professor?” The best response to which only strengthens my point: “No. Science professors are so ugly.” I hadn’t felt so returned to high school and the jock/nerd/football/cheerleader clichés than I did when reading this article. Imagine what visiting freshmen and their parents must think if they read that.

The other prominent word featured in the title was “scholars,” and this was far more important of a mistake in my eyes. Webster’s defines “scholar” as “a person who has undergone advanced study in a special field.” The first part of the profiles in this article that caught my attention was the distribution of majors. Among the “winners” there were two kinesiology majors, two communications majors, four science-related majors and eight business majors. There is zero representation of COLFA (by far, the largest college at the university), the College of Architecture, the College of Education or the College of Public Policy. Not to belittle the work of those students on the list, but they are hardly representative of the vast culture of disciplines, and thus, the students, of this university.

For an institution of such varied cultures and personalities, and a newspaper that has shown its ability to publish relevant articles with competent journalism, such an immature and shallow display is both unexpected and out of place. Again, if the Paisano had chosen a better title (might I suggest: “Sexiest Friends of the Paisano Staff” or “Paisano Beauty Contest”) then perhaps the article might have been more palatable, rather than demeaning, to its readers. As it stands, the universalized language and the narrow appeal of this vapid subject matter undermines the credibility of the paper and sets a poor example for visiting university applicants and their parents. We can do better.