By Daniel Bohm
The following is an open letter to Stanford President John Hennessy and other members of the school’s administration.
Dear President Hennessy,
I am writing you today requesting that you stand behind the Stanford football team. I’m not talking about singing the alma mater with the players after Saturday’s win or participating in Gaieties. I am asking you to come out and say that Stanford students will be excused from classes on January 3, 2011 to attend the Orange Bowl, if that is indeed the bowl game that the Cardinal football team is playing in. And although it is highly unlikely, if Stanford is invited to the Sugar Bowl, I would love to hear that students will be free to attend, even though it is on January 4, 2011.
Stanford needs the support of its leader. I am sick and tired of hearing that Stanford has a lackluster fan base and that it will not be able to fill its allotted seats at a bowl game. I’m sure you are tired of hearing those sentiments as well. The bowl committees need to know that Stanford is committed to selling its seats—that the university is invested in the football team—and they need to know now, before the bowls are selected.
As you probably know, Stanford is ranked fourth in the current BCS standings, which gives the Cardinal an automatic bid to a BCS bowl. However, in the unlikely event that we fall to No. 5 next week, I don’t want there to be any doubt in the minds of bowl chairmen that they want Stanford at their bowl and that Stanford will fill seats like it did at last year’s Sun Bowl.
This is also an important opportunity to show support to a football program that many pundits are saying is bracing to take some serious hits. Stanford has one of the best coaches in the nation in Jim Harbaugh, but many people think it is just a matter of time before he leaves the Farm for greener pastures where fans live and die with their football team. Show coach Harbaugh that Stanford can be a great football school with a passionate fan base.
Stanford also has the best quarterback in the country in Andrew Luck. He is a redshirt sophomore eligible for the NFL Draft. Let’s fill up a bowl game stadium and show Luck that he should stay at Stanford one more year and get his degree. I’m asking you to give us students a chance.
I know that Stanford is one of the best academic schools in the world, and that canceling classes for a football game may ruffle some feathers, and it may even appear to undermine the academic drive of the campus. However, college—as I’m sure you know, given all of the amazing extracurricular activities offered at Stanford—is about learning both in and out of the classroom. This is a special opportunity that students should be able to enjoy without worrying about falling behind back on campus.
There is precedent for canceling classes for big football games. Just last year, the University of Alabama excused students and faculty from three days of class in order to allow them to travel to and from the BCS National Championship Game. Yes, there are complications that come from canceling class—especially in Winter Quarter when we already lose Mondays to Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents’ Day—but I believe this is well worth it. Also, if I recall correctly, just a few years ago instruction began in all quarters on Tuesday and not Monday.
Unfortunately, none of us can control whether or not alumni and local Stanford fans show up for home games or decide to travel to bowl games. You, however, do have the power to make it possible for students to support their classmates on the gridiron. So please, President Hennessy, throw your support behind the Stanford football team. Come out screaming that Stanford deserves to be in a BCS bowl and that Cardinal red will be seen in the stadium.