Hockey team unfairly labeled

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Brian Teixeira and I am a member of the junior class here at Williams. I am also a member of the men’s ice hockey team. Actually, I am a PROUD member of the men’s ice hockey team. Recently, the team has come under heavy scrutiny in response to an incident involving a couple of players. I do not seek to justify their actions. I only seek to put the allegations levied on our team into perspective.

When I am seated in the locker-room and I look over my right shoulder, I see an active member of the Church community. When I look over my left shoulder, I see a ‘Big Brother’ who devotes time and effort to elementary school students. As my eyes gaze from locker to locker, the trend continues. In short, I see a collection of honest, loyal and selfless student-athletes.

Unfortunately, many members of the Williams community fail to see what I see. The individual efforts of many members of the hockey team to serve the community have gone largely unnoticed and written off as singular efforts, while the poor judgment exercised by a couple members in a recent incident has been generalized as an extension of team character. This is simply unjust.

If you take any 25 Williams students selected in an arbitrary fashion, I guarantee you that at least two or three of them have gotten into trouble during their four-year tenure. I don’t think there is a single person on this campus that has not done something he or she regrets; many of these regrets involve security and sometimes the WPD.

In the case of the men’s hockey team, an entire team is being held accountable for the actions of a few individuals, a few good-hearted individuals who made a poor decision. They are loyal people who I am confident would defend me if the scenario was reversed, and if it was my poor judgment that cost the group as a whole.

With the athletics-academics debate still raging, certain members of the community are looking for a poster-child to support their notion that athletes, specifically helmet-sport athletes, are not socially or academically qualified to be members of the Williams community. It seems as though they have chosen the men’s hockey team to serve this function. However, the fact still remains that by and large, the hockey team has done a stellar job in the classroom as well as in the many services and activities that make up our community.

Last spring’s athletic report made many such allegations, and because they were published in the academic year’s last issue of the Record, students had no opportunity for rebuttal. One such claim stated that “Men’s Varsity Hockey Players are 93% more likely to take easy courses,” and implied that many of these courses were located in the same (“easy”) majors and that the existence of this trend was evidence of “anti-intellectualism” and “clear disengagement” in the classroom.

Of the 14 seniors and juniors on the men’s hockey team, there are three economics majors, two history majors, one political science major, one math major, one psychology major, one art studio major, one economics/English double major, one psychology/political science double major, one history/Spanish double major and one math/economics double major.

Such an array of majors flies completely in the face of accusations that helmet-sport athletes are likely to take similar (“easy”) courses concentrated in the same (“easy”) major and belies the notion that these athletes are “disengaged” and “anti-intellectual.”

It is also crucial to note that “easy” is a relative term. Whenever you rank courses in order of difficulty, which is an extremely opinionated practice, there will inevitably be a most difficult and a least difficult course. This does not necessarily make the least difficult course “easy.” If you had to rank Organic Chemistry and Abstract Algebra in order of difficulty, one course would inevitably have to be considered more difficult than the other.

This is the logic that was used last spring in an effort to persecute helmet-sport athletes on this camp us. At an institution that prides itself on providing one of the top liberal arts educations in the world, I find the notion that there are “easy” courses available both debatable and disturbing from a consumer (student) and producer (College) standpoint. I have been under the impression that my tuition dollar has been funding an elite education. Any courses that fail to meet such a high standard should be remedied by restructuring the course NOT by eradicating the individuals who have opted to take the course.

Lastly, I directly question the methodology employed in determining what constitutes an “easy” course. This, however, is another issue that needs to be addressed at a later time. As a member of the men’s hockey program, I have found the first few weeks of what should be a promising year to be very trying, as my affiliation with the hockey team has served as a social handicap.

The community has treated us differently and judged us as individuals based on some isolated incidents involving members of the team, many of whom have long since graduated. As a team, we accept full responsibility for the actions of these individuals and we would like to apologize to the Williams community for any disruptions that these incidents have caused. We do not condone their actions. We do, however, recognize that people make mistakes from time to time that they ultimately regret.

We request that you do not do the same by passing premature judgment on the many fine members of the men’s hockey team that I am so proud to call my teammates.

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