EDITORIAL: It’s all in the name

On July 25, it was announced that Kevin Lykins, the same Texas pastor originally primed to be the chaplain for the ISU football team, will now serve as the team’s life skills assistant.

ISU President Gregory Geoffroy approved the athletics department’s proposal for a life skills position to advise members of the football team. Initially, the position’s title was “team chaplain” – somewhere in the mix the title was changed to “life skills assistant.”

The difference in the wording of the titles is obvious, but the difference in the duties of the positions is a little murky. Both focus on religious topics with intentions of being widely available to the team members.

Religion is a very touchy topic in many situations. In a publicly funded state university, the topic is particularly touchy. The life skills assistant title seems to make these religious topics easier to handle.

As students, we have learned to give our resumes some extra pizazz by rewording job titles and positions.

For example, when describing a job that is focused on waiting tables, we might say we communicated with many different types of people and met the needs of the customers. We are taught to change the wording to seem more professional.

Yes, Iowa State, we know what you are doing – manipulating the wording of job titles.

The athletics department has made it very clear this position will not be funded by any state, university, athletics department or ISU Foundation funds. So where are the funds coming from? Privately raised funds.

There are plenty of privately and publicly funded charities that could use that money.

How hard did someone work to make sure there were enough privately raised funds to support the position?

On a national level, the Bush administration has also done a fine job of playing with titles. For example, the USA PATRIOT Act, Operation Iraqi Freedom and No Child Left Behind may be viewed as sugarcoated versions of phone tapping, war and standardized test-based education.

What it all comes down to is the renaming of jobs. Everybody does it, but is it the right thing to do? Not always, and some people aren’t fooled.