The mystery of how it happened isn’t the worst part, as the underlying factor is the Byzantine point system itself, which unlike all the other benefits and privileges offered employees is not equal opportunity for all, special privilege for none (even parking after five years of employment), it’s instead an elaborate caste system, a form of social stratification which benefited its authors at the expense of the non-enfranchised. The committee that designed the system contained five faculty members, someone from the extension service and from the Personnel Office. No staff members were consulted.
What seems odious and peculiar now was basically just a product of its time. When it was announced in the Aug. 10, 1970 report, the governor made famous for his “segregation forever!” stand was on his way back to office, winning what’s been called “one of the most racist campaigns in modern Southern political history.” Despite the 1964 declaration by the Auburn Plainsman that “Victorianism may not be dead, but it should be,” women students were still forced to live on campus and observe a curfew, unlike their male counterparts. A letter to the editor was published that year from the head cheerleader, explaining that they would no longer do the popular “Track ‘em Tigers” cheer due to complaints about “offensive language.”
That fall an editorial was published in the Plainsman calling “Come let us reason together.” It described the ‘casual hurt’ inflicted by the powerful upon the powerless victims, who are so bound by circumstances he must ignore it.”
By the end of the ‘70s, the Auburn campus was much further down the path of enlightenment. The great James Owens was more than the ferocious blocker whose skills made for an admirable career in the NFL. He helped pave the way so future African-American student athletes like the great Bo Jackson and the great Cam Newton could be known not for the color of their skin, but for the content of their character and trophy cases. Auburn women were then able to live off campus and stay out late, wear shorts to class and drink beer at the Supper Club.
Even the “Schoolhouse door” governor in 1979 admitted “I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over.”
It took a while longer, but it was announce in the March 19, 2007 edition of the AU Report that the priority point system would no longer be applied for new employees beginning then. The reason given by the chair of the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics was “the committee had long encountered requests by lower-ranking staff members with many years of service. In many cases, those employees never accrued enough points to qualify for purchases of championship tickets because the point system was based so heavily on faculty rank and staff job classification.”
So the inequities of the point system have been publicly acknowledged now for five years, yet the proscribed remedy has proven woefully ineffective. We “lower ranking staff members with many years of service” got to stay home and watch the BCS Championship game on TV in January 2011, as administrators, faculty and retirees with fewer years of service and patronage were afforded the privilege of purchasing tickets. That I was denied the privilege of purchasing tickets to the Alabama game in my 25th consecutive year is further evidence the remedy failed, and the anachronistic point system should be scrapped in its entirety, and replaced with a system based exclusively on active status, years of service and football season ticket purchases.
Please address this problem now. A good place to start will be to make available to the unsold Alabama tickets this year to the staff members with the most years of purchase who were denied the option this year. Class discrimination may not be dead, but it should be! Please “don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall,” the casual hurt must no longer be ignored.
class of ‘87