By Kevin Luo
Usually, I’m not a fan of someone trying to steal the show at a graduation. It’s a day to celebrate the graduating class and not individuals. However, this past week Derek Slaughter stole the show at the University of Alabama at Birmingham graduation, and I have immense admiration for what he did.
Slaughter, who was a linebacker on the UAB football team the past four seasons, brought his football helmet to the graduation. He held it up while he was on stage in protest of the school’s decision to remove the football program. He also refused to shake the hand of school president, Ray Watts, who has been heavily scrutinized by this decision.
Following this past regular season that saw the UAB Blazers go 6-6, the school administration made the decision to abolish the football program. The Blazers had a chance to go to a bowl game but were not invited to one after this decision came down. Groups of students and alumni heavily protested this decision.
Due to the public outcry, the UAB administration claimed the program was bleeding money and could no longer financially keep the football program. However, in the following months, an independent financial firm originally hired by the university finished up an investigation into the finances of the program. Their research indicated that the program is actually profitable and has the potential to be more profitable in future seasons with more money flowing into college football.
Although I feel that UAB shouldn’t have abolished their football program, I don’t know all the details surrounding the program’s finances. Either way, I think it’s commendable that a senior player on the team took it upon himself to make a statement on behalf of something he believes.
Some people have criticized Slaughter saying he made the graduation all about him and took away from all of his classmates. However, I don’t see that as the case. He only lifted his helmet up when he was on stage and his name was called. He was just a normal student for the rest of the ceremony. When he was on stage, the student body applauded his actions. The NCAA and individual universities encourage student athletes to embrace the student aspect of that title. Being a student should mean thinking and fighting for what you believe is right, and that’s exactly what Slaughter did.
Hopefully Slaughter’s actions will bring more attention to this situation and maybe even cause the university to reinstate the program. All in all, this was a strong action by someone who was clearly a leader on and off the field, and it should be praised.
. “Because at the end of the day, the win not only means something to me but means something to the team, as well.”
With the loss to Skidmore, the women’s undefeated season came to an end, dropping them to 9-1 overall. They will be back in action on Wednesday, April 15, against New York University.