Smith deserves equal treatment

By Mary Martens

It is dis-ingenuous to suggest that Jamar Smith has been given preferential treatment because of his status as an athlete. Instead, it is closer to the truth to say that he has made the same mistake that other students on campus have made. He got behind the wheel of a car after having a few too many drinks with his friends. He discovered there were consequences.

If you or I did the same thing we would probably get a few lines in the police blotter section of the newspaper and not be heard of again. We would be quietly processed through the legal system, receive a judgment based on the degree of the crime, pay our costs, do the necessary time or community service and continue to get on with our lives and/or studies. Hopefully we would learn something about ourselves and make better decisions in the future.

But Jamar Smith is not so lucky. Because of his star athlete status, he gets to have the media spotlight follow him around every step of the way. He can’t go anywhere without being held up to public scrutiny. People who don’t even know him feel free to take cheap shots at him in the student newspaper. So yes, he gets “preferential” treatment, especially when someone “prefers” to trash him in The Daily Illini by insinuating that he’s some kind of “thug.”

A recent letter to the editor from Bryan Thompson makes the claim that there is a double standard in regards to the treatment of student athletes. His letter suggested that athletes should be “removed from the University” when they behave “in a disgraceful and unprofessional way or commit a crime.” This is truly a double standard. Why single out the athletes? If you want to be fair then any student who behaves in a disgraceful and unprofessional way or commits a crime should be removed from the University.

I would like to invite anyone to walk with me through the campus bar scene on the weekend. Or even on Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day. I’ll be glad to point out any disgraceful, unprofessional or even criminal behavior that might escape your attention.

Many students experiment with their limits in consuming alcohol. Many use bad judgment while under the influence of alcohol. Face it, that’s what alcohol does to you. It makes you do stupid things you would never do if you were sober.

I would like to applaud the University for it’s decision to allow Jamar Smith to continue in his pursuit of an education. Thankfully, they looked at all aspects of this young man’s life and saw someone who is deserving of a second chance.

Mary Martens

UI Staff Member/Retired