By Cory Bass
The U of C feels it has a problem with the type of students currently attending the university and in an effort to bring in an increased number of academically-minded students, a program called Scholars’ Advantage was instituted. Any grade 11 student who receives average grades over 80 per cent in five appropriate courses is automatically accepted to the program. Those who receive over 85 per cent are guaranteed a minimum monetary scholarship of $500.
There is no problem with rewarding students for outstanding performance, but the reward offered by Scholars’ Advantage is combined with perks no other student receives. Perks include early registration for classes and lockers, early access to parking waiting lists, personal tours of the university, complimentary access to athletic facilities and guaranteed accommodation in on-campus residences. These perks exist for the sole purpose of getting these students to attend the U of C. Because of this, it’s more than just a reward, it’s a bribe. Scholars’ Advantage only helps a select group, creating an upper class that gets the red carpet treatment. Scholarships are generally used as rewards for performance, not as bribes to acquire students.
No university should bribe students to attend–not with material items anyway. Students should want to attend for the quality of education and the community atmosphere, not because they got a free locker and better parking. Would it be appropriate to offer star athletes new cars to come to the university to play for sports teams? No.
"Mo shuile togam suas" is the university’s mission statement, which roughly translates to "I shall lift up mine eyes." The calendar describes the U of C’s goal to be a place of education and scholarly inquiry. The U of C’s mission is to seek truth and disseminate knowledge. That mission statement seems to be an outfit of virtue that the university neglects to wear. Putting cash in the pockets of a select few students, giving them complimentary access to athletic facilities and early placement on parking lists does not magically "disseminate" education to them. Therefore, Scholars’ Advantage does not fulfill the university’s mission.
The university is stuck on dealing with the symptom and not addressing the problem. Sure the university doesn’t attract all the top students in the country (the symptom) but the Scholars’ Advantage program is not the way of dealing with it. If the university channeled the effort it puts into the Scholars’ Advantage program into building up the quality of education for all students, maybe then they would be dealing with the real problem.