UPDATE, 3:45 p.m. ET: Just minutes before I published this post, Xavier apparently cancelled these reflection sessions and will not be forcing students to attend next week, according to this tweet from CBS's Jeff Goodman. So, what you read just below here appears, at this point, to be much ado about nothing. Which is good for Xavier students and good for Xavier administrators and good for ... well, everyone but me, as I predictably dealt with a solid 10 minutes of "LOL you're so dumb those are cancelled now IDIOT" tweets from the assorted masses on everyone's favorite social network. Sigh.
Anyway: No reflection sessions, it seems. Xavier students, you're off the hook. As if you guys needed a reason to celebrate on Friday night. Be sure to look out for the guy or gal who originally leaked the email. He or she deserves credit for this becoming a thing, and thus or (at least indirectly) getting you guys out of it in the first place. If they gave out gold stars in college, that person would deserve one.
Original post: Another day, another way to poke at the mess created by the Dec. 10 Xavier-Cincinnati brawl. Considering it's been almost a month since -- crazy, right? -- you'd think this stuff would be well behind us by now. And yet, like the smell of your gym shoes in your once-pristine backpack, it lingers. Oh, does it linger.
The latest development, if it can really be called that, comes to us this week thanks to the well-minded but clearly over-exuberant folks in charge at Xavier university. On Thursday, Xavier Dean of Students Luther G. Smith emailed the Xavier student body en masse with a rather unusual announcement: Any student that sat in the XU student section on Dec. 10 must attend a so-called "reflection session." Attendance is mandatory, and those who don't show up won't be allowed to purchase tickets to Musketeers games for the rest of the 2011-12 season. There are "no make-up sessions and no exceptions for non-compliance with this expectation exceptions," according to the letter from Smith, a portion of which is included below:
The student section contributed to the hostile atmosphere that charged the arena with unsportsmanlike conduct through unacceptable chanting, verbal expletives, and objects being thrown onto the arena floor. As a Jesuit, Catholic university, the behaviors demonstrated are not becoming of its students and is in conflict with the mission, values, and standards of Xavier University.
There are consequences associated with inappropriate behaviors by the student section ticket holders; therefore, all Xavier students who attended the Crosstown Shootout and who sat in the student section are expected to participate in one (1) of three (3) reflection sessions during the first week of the spring semester, 2012.
Based on the tone of the email, "reflection sessions" seems like a nicer term for "you're going to get yelled at for an hour, so just deal with it." Because let's be real: That's what's going to happen. The students will assemble. They'll sit bored in their chairs, wishing they were using their time either to study or party (because what do you have time for in college). They'll send out text messages and tweets and pretend to be paying attention, especially when one of the administrators at the front of the room speaks in particularly stern tones, then they'll go back to doing whatever they were doing before. There isn't going to be any actual reflection at work here, right? The students will go through the motions, makes sure they can still buy their beloved tickets, and that will basically be that. We're not exactly working with "Dangerous Minds" here, you know?
ESPN SportsCenter anchor and radio host Scott Van Pelt dedicated Friday's "One Big Thing" segment to this topic, and as usual, he's spot on. College kids do what college kids do. Were they probably too rowdy on Dec. 10? Sure. Should have been swearing? Probably not. Should they have hurled objects onto the floor? Definitely not. But they're college kids. Being loud and obnoxious during a rivalry game is basically their entire reason for existence -- other than paying tuition, that is.
The XU administration is trying to do the right thing, but in this case, it's a moot point. Xavier's students aren't bad kids. They aren't in need of rehabilitation or "reflection." They yelled some naughty things during a very heated rivalry game. It happens.
At this point, if Xavier still wants to "move on" from the Dec. 10 brawl -- both on and off the court -- it would be advised to do exactly that. Move on.