The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

A greater problem

Our college is a mission-driven institution. It is one guided by core values and foundational principles that have been fought for, and upheld, and institutionalized. As a community and as individuals, we strive to uphold these values in our interactions and our relationships—and as a small residential college these interactions are all the more important because we see one another every day. We live among one another, and depend on each other for our stated community values to be upheld. One of the college’s core values demands:

1. Personal, egalitarian and respectful interactions among all members of the college community.

After events of last weekend, and after many significant events from this year, these values appear to be under attack from members of our community that are all affiliated with the same athletic team. The football team, specifically, has among its members the people most responsible for countless oppressive actions on campus over the past year. Not all members of the football team are responsible, and many share our disgust at the actions of their peers. There are also many members of the team who have no power to stop other members from acting in such an untoward manner. I have seen many examples of members of the team stand up against acts of hate and sexism, but it is my belief that now greater, institutional action must be taken against the entirety of the team, even if the entire team is not responsible.

There is no doubt that several members of the football team share responsibility to for many despicable and inherently anti-egalitarian behaviors. This must be addressed immediately before an even more severe event makes the issue unavoidable. I have witnessed maddening displays of chauvinism, sexism, homophobia, threats of sexual assault, and misogyny throughout the year from members of the football team, and these specific perpetrators never seem to get the message that their behavior is unacceptable. If we attended an institution with a Greek system, and these actions had happened in a fraternity, the Chapter would be disbanded immediately. Similarly, if the college funded a random student group with tens of thousands of dollars, and that hypothetical student group so stepped over the line, the college would not continue support the group with such generous funding. The institution would feel embarrassed to be affiliated with that organization. I cannot imagine any other organization on campus that could so blatantly trample on the core values of our college while keeping its funding secure. The football team should be afforded no more special treatment.

I am not asking that the football team be eliminated. I am, however, asking that the college not lie in bed so comfortably with a group that creates a hostile and offensive environment on campus. Furthermore, I am not laying out a plan for disciplinary action—I believe that others are better suited to construct a proper response to deal with the current situation. I have no plan here to fight broad issues of male privilege and misogyny that pervade student culture here on campus. All I ask is that the Administration reevaluate its monetary commitment to a team that appears wildly out of line with its mission statement.

In order to realign the College with its mission statement, I propose that action must be taken against the football team as a whole, regardless of size of the group responsible. I propose that the Administration make significant cuts in the budget of the football team. I propose that SGA aggressively petition the Administration to make these cuts immediately, and for the cuts to be significant. If our stated values relate to “egalitarian” and “respectful interactions among all members of the college community,” funneling money to this student group is unconscionable and antithetical to the values that make us who we are.

We exist as an institution committed to making people feel safe while they learn. Generously funding a program whose members routinely make other members of the community feel unsafe flies in the face of what we love most about Grinnell College. If we continue to fully fund the football team next year we are all complicit in condoning the actions of a student group known for perpetrating acts of explicit and implicit violence, and threats of violence, against vulnerable members of our community.

—Jon Richardson ’10

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