| 03.21.2018

Q”s & no real answers: A list of questions from a curious student journalist


When I walked into The Argonaut newsroom as a freshman three years ago, I started asking questions and never stopped. These are the ones I never got answers to.

Let”s start with everyone”s favorite topic – Vandal Athletics. Athletics Director Rob Spear has gone on the record saying a single criminal infraction is enough to remove a Vandal athlete from their team.

Hannah Shirley Argonaut

Hannah Shirley

I”ll assume former University of Idaho cornerback Dezmon Epps is the reason for this high standard, since it was clearly more lax when he was an active player –  but looking forward, how religiously will the athletics department hold players to that standard in the future?

What people are really interested in right now is the UI football program”s transition to Big Sky. Due to Title IX regulations, a significant amount of women”s athletic scholarships will have to be cut to match the men”s scholarships lost in the move. Spear has said a women”s sport will not be cut to achieve this – but if that”s not the plan, what is?

Spear himself certainly has a long, checkered history with Vandal Athletics – he”s done some great things for the university, and some not-so-great things, as anyone who has ever unironically used the hashtag #TossTheSpear will tell you.

Yet, going on year 13 with UI, he has remained athletic director for longer than almost any other AD at peer institutions – and his contract was just renewed for another five years. Good for him, but here”s the question – why?

Moving on.

Remember the UI tobacco policy? The one that was such hot news on campus last year, and has been waiting for a final say from the President”s Office pretty much since then? Why hasn”t there been a decision yet by UI President Chuck Staben or General Counsel?

To be fair, Staben is a busy guy. He”s doing some pretty neat things to increase enrollment, in particular, which he hopes to hike up 50 percent by 2025. But how, exactly, will Moscow and the university accommodate so many more bodies? They have to go somewhere.

And infrastructural issues aside, how will university faculty handle so many more students? With morale devastatingly low and turnover rates sky-high, what will the university do to not only retain its professors, but rebuild its relationship with them?

While we”re on personnel – what went down in the English department this semester? What could have happened to cause two rock star professors to leave their positions – one indefinitely, one permanently – almost without warning?

When Katy Benoit was murdered by a former UI professor five years ago, how much did the university actually know about the professor”s history leading up to Benoit”s death? Could more have been done to prevent it? Has anything really changed?

Finally, when Phi Gamma Delta fraternity”s treatment of its freshmen came under scrutiny last year, was the correct process followed to impose sanctions? Is there a standard review process for investigating hazing allegations? Can the university do better?

When a student body completely turns over every four years, it”s easy for huge chunks of institutional memory to be lost. Don”t let these questions go.

Hannah Shirley can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu  or on Twitter @itshannah7

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