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To provide some consolation to the writer of a Dec. 15 letter questioning the priorities of the University of Minnesota as reflected in the disparities in its coach-to-athlete vs. faculty-to-student ratios: It must be kept in mind that the “student-athlete” is a vital part of the rich sports entertainment sector of the U.S. economy. As such, the student-athlete’s toil on the U’s behalf provides it with a significant revenue stream. Students of literature, chemistry or finance — call them “student-scholars” — are, in contrast, cost centers: Their tuition pays only a fraction of the expense to educate them. The good that will come from educating student-scholars at a loss is difficult to measure in an economy that is focused on short-term gains. So, it must be recognized that coaching student-athletes isn’t harder than teaching student-scholars; it’s just more immediately profitable and thus worthy of a coach-to-athlete ratio that exceeds the U’s faculty-to-student ratio.
I agree that the U’s priorities are warped, but, more sadly, so are its values.
AMERICO DEL CALZO, Minneapolis
The math makes it the musicians’ move
I see two clear indicators that it’s time for the Minnesota Orchestra musicians to get back to the bargaining table and participate in a workable contract. The first is the orchestra’s $5 million deficit reduction in a year where there was virtually no concert revenue — laying plain the major discrepancy between musician salaries and economic reality. The second is the fact that musicians have raised only $600,000 despite aggressive fundraising efforts and rally concerts — barely enough for four musician salaries under the current contract. Unless the musicians want to rename themselves the Minnesota Classical Quartet, it’s clear that they need the board and management as much as the board and management need them. It’s time to negotiate and move forward.
HOLLY GROVER, Maple Grove
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.