SMU Fall 2015 semester in review

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Classes are winding down and 2015 is drawing to a close. The holidays and New Year (and course evaluations) bring about time to reflect on what has happened this year and to look forward to what the coming year holds. In the spirit of the season, here are some of the major events that have transpired on campus this past semester:

Chad Morris and SMU Football:

Chad Morris started his coaching career at SMU to great fanfare. It was heralded that there would be a “new era” of SMU football under his leadership and that things would be different. At first they were. SMU put up respectable, well-fought performances against Baylor and TCU and actually delivered a win against UNT.

However, things went downhill following the team’s loss to James Madison University during Homecoming weekend. Ultimately, the Mustangs struggled their way to a 2-10 record at the time of this writing – not a whole lot different than last year.

Chad Morris certainly shaped the football team into a more successful and cohesive unit; however, a 2-10 record is not one to write home about. Hopefully the hype and success of SMU’s football program will increase and Chad Morris will continue to build something significant here at SMU.

SMU’s Centennial Celebration:

The weekend of Sept. 24-27 saw SMU celebrate a century as a university in grand style. R. Gerald Turner proudly announced that our fundraising goals had been surpassed with “a billion and change” being raised for the future of this university. In addition to numerous events for alumni and students, the Homecoming parade and game were capped off with a glorious fireworks display that I personally think should be a yearly tradition.

The Centennial Celebration encouraged us to look back at our university’s history and to celebrate all that has been accomplished. But rather than resting on our laurels, this celebration should strengthen our resolve to continue to improve our institution as we progress into the second century, which will hopefully be even better than the first.

The NCAA sanctions:

Shortly following SMU’s Centennial came strict penalties for SMU’s men’s basketball and golf teams. The NCAA determined that the Mustangs were guilty of academic fraud and other various infractions, which caused them to hand down fairly severe punishment.

While you probably already know, the harshest of these penalties was a postseason ban and Larry Brown being suspended from a portion of the team’s season. These penalties caused outrage from all corners of SMU’s community, and again brought us into a broader spotlight for academic tarnish.

Hopefully the Mustangs can recover from these harsh penalties and still have a good season. I mean we can still be AAC champs right? It remains to be seen if this incident will be the last in a long line of athletic infractions, or if we will continue our cheating ways. But for now, all that remains to be seen is how the Mustangs will respond and if the spirit of “Moody Magic” can be sustained throughout these trying times.

Racial tensions and protests:

Racial tensions have engulfed campuses across America, from Yale and Mizzou to Dartmouth and Princeton. SMU was no different, with its own racial tensions being heightened throughout the semester.

On the heels of a racially offensive party that was planned by an SMU fraternity and anonymous comments that were posted online, concerned students and Black alumni hosted a forum to discuss the state of racial relations on SMU’s campus and to promote diversity.

Students banded together under the #BlackatSMU hashtag to continue their activism. A picture was taken at a “blackout” rally to support solidarity with the students at Missouri. Additionally, a peaceful march was held to further bring awareness to the cause.

Most recently, a list of 10 demands was reportedly delivered to R. Gerald Turner’s office, as reported by the #BlackatSMU twitter account Monday, Nov. 16. Leaders of the movement have declined The Campus Weekly’s requests for comment and more information on these demands.

It is unclear whether this movement will be able to continue its momentum and bring about some positive changes to SMU’s climate. It is a noble goal to ensure that all feel included on this campus, and I hope that goal gets met; however, I hope that no new divisions, tensions, or intimidation are launched by either side along the way. The story largely remains to be written, I simply hope that all sides of this dialogue continue to be respectful and peaceful (as they have been) in working towards meaningful change.

These were the main story-lines from the Fall 2015 semester. Keep checking back here on the opinion section in 2016 to follow these story-lines and others as they develop on SMU’s campus.

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