BCS Championship impacts early attendance

Ivar Vong

With the arrival of the Bowl Championship Series title game next Monday, more than 2,000 University students, staff and faculty are set to forgo instructional time in the coming week as they travel to Glendale, Ariz.

Because the University’s team, ranked second in the nation, is playing in the game, student-athletes and athletic department personnel will miss the first seven instructional days of winter quarter. To help offset the negative effects of missing nearly 10 percent of the term’s classes, Services for Student Athletes has outlined a strict agenda for the players to follow while out of state, including study sessions, early textbook distribution and mandatory tutor sessions.

Traveling close behind the football team are the Oregon Marching Band and cheerleading squad students, who will miss two or three class days, according to a letter penned by University President Richard Lariviere and University Provost James Bean. Regular student fans, in the best-case scenario, will only miss class on the day of the game and the following Tuesday for homeward travel.

Because attending the championship game will pose as an excused absence for athletes, cheerleaders and members of the marching band, University administrators have asked for the understanding and cooperation of faculty members. In their letter, Lariviere and Bean ask that the school’s registration process “not penalize these students by dropping them from courses when they cannot attend those first days of class.”

Regular students’ absences, however, will not be excused, and advisors are urging those trekking to Glendale to let instructors know of their situations well in advance.

“The idea was to examine the situation and discuss potential leave and missing classes beforehand,” University Dean of Students Paul Shang said. “We are encouraging students to talk and think about this during the first week of class.”

Though professors are expected to use sensible judgment to accommodate the travel needs of students, Shang said it is the responsibility of students to communicate with faculty members.

“I just caution students to discuss (their absences) in advance with their instructors,” Shang said.

This situation could incense professors, who, short of applying for vacation leave, are required to be on campus for the day of the game to teach in classrooms where many desks will be vacant. However, Shang is convinced that faculty members have generally condoned efforts by student fans to attend the big game.

“Most of the faculty members who I have talked to have been supportive,” Shang said. “Many of them are Duck fans, too.”

Economics professor Bill Harbaugh urges students to make their decisions on whether to skip class using the tools of rational choice. Completing four years of college increases the degree-holder’s income by an average of $23,417 per year, Harbaugh contended. With 30 weeks of class per year, each week of class benefits the student by $23,417 divided by 120 weeks, or four years. Therefore, for every week of class attended, a graduate will earn roughly $195 more every year for the rest of one’s working life, which is also the opportunity cost, or the cost of making a choice, of skipping a week of class to go to Arizona.

Next, Harbaugh advises to factor in travel and ticket costs and then “convert the joy of watching the Ducks win into a dollar value … and compare the costs with the expected benefits.”

Speaking less as an economist and more as a professor, Harbaugh does not view students’ absences as a surprise or a problem.

“I’m not going to get outraged over a few students skipping class for a football game,” Harbaugh said.

Given the number of regular students opting to eschew their Week Two studies to witness the end of Oregon’s football season, many view a handful of missed classes as a small price to pay.

University senior and business administration major Erik Johannes is planning on leaving Friday to attend the game, but will only have to miss two days because his business school classes are conveniently not held on Fridays.

“Monday and Tuesday won’t be that big of a deal,” Johannes said. “It’s worth it … you should take advantage of it while you can.”


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