The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

78° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Editorial: Independent study needs evaluation

    Although the university’s investigation of former classics department head Alex Nava and the alleged preferential treatment he gave to various student-athletes found no evidence of NCAA violations, the situation has called the integrity of independent study coursework at the UA into question.

    The investigation revealed that Nava had 27 independent-study students this semester, 12 of whom were student-athletes.

    When that many students are working on various projects, papers and research assignments simultaneously and are all being managed by one professor, there’s no way that students can receive the individual attention that independent studies are supposed to afford.

    Independent study is a valuable academic option for students seeking to earn credit through alternative means. But when students start to see them as an easy way to pick up three, four or even six credits without doing any work, the university needs to step in and make sure the system is fair.

    Independent studies are supposed to be a chance for students to work closely with professors on subjects that they would not otherwise have an opportunity to study, not to earn blocks of credit by doing only a minimal amount of work.

    The result of the controversy will likely be a universitywide crackdown on the procedures for independent studies, meaning more paperwork and hassle for professors and students alike.

    Students looking for opportunities to earn credit outside of the traditional classroom will now have to jump through more hoops, and professors will be less likely to work with students on these projects.

    Even if the university is hesitant to create a specific limitation on how many independent-study students a professor may have at one time, professors need to use better judgment in conducting independent studies and take appropriate steps to make sure that students earning credit are doing sufficiently rigorous academic work.

    Also, even if no NCAA violations were committed, the allegations against Nava have only given more ammunition to those who say that student-athletes receive preferential treatment in their studies.

    The athletics department has promised an investigation to determine whether such claims have merit, and the entire university community needs to have confidence restored that a basketball scholarship doesn’t mean athletes will be passed through without doing homework or writing term papers.

    No matter how high one can jump, how fast one can pitch or how good a middle-blocker one is, the “”student”” still comes first in student-athlete, and the university needs to ensure that everyone knows it.

    It would be a shame to see the opportunity for independent study removed, but the university and its departments need to make sure that the credit awarded is actually deserved.

    Opinions Board

    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Caitlin Hall, Michael Huston, Ryan Johnson, Aaron Mackey and Tim Runestad.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search