Taking the sideline view

I would like to take this time to share my opinion on the recent College Council (CC) elections and to address an issue that I felt came to light during this election. First, it was great to see how passionate students were throughout this election regardless of what presidential ticket that they supported. I felt that both sides ran tough, though completely different, campaigns and that the voice behind every vote cast is something that the new CC needs to be in touch with. This is one of the most important goals for this new CC to tackle, in addition to other issues that came out during this election.

I am talking about the issue over the athletic divide on campus. I saw it rear its ugly head during this election once people started to justify their vote, based on criteria other than the campaign platforms on both sides. This athletic divide is between students that have significant time commitments to a varsity sport and students who have the same commitments to other groups and organizations. There is something present in the social culture here at Williams that causes these two groups of the student body to stand at odds with each other. As a member of the varsity football team and therefore one of the many student-athletes here at Williams, I used to hold the perspective that the hard work, time spent and physical sacrifice that goes into being a student-athlete was something that only others in my similar predicament could understand; only they could understand this large part of who I am. I felt that the dedication of other students who participated in different activities was somehow not as legitimate because it did not involve athletics.

I know now that such a view is seriously flawed because I have become more involved in Sankofa, College Council and various other non-athletic commitments on campus. It was through such experiences that I realized exactly how similar we all are; we are all heavily committed to our responsibilities, and we all share the same academic burdens as Williams students. I can only address this issue from the point of view of a student-athlete, but I would guess that other students have also felt the effects of this athletic divide in one way or another.

This divide is not as overt as, say, the stereotypically divided high school, and that is because student-athletes contribute great things to this school, both on and off the field. Yet, it is still troubling how this often subtle and unspoken divide exists on this campus. Some may claim that such a divide is a figment of my imagination or something that is created and sustained by athletes. Some may claim that such a divide is simply the result of the limited interactions between two groups of the student body that are fundamentally different from each other. However, I would disagree and say that this divide is more than just an inevitable fact that all Williams students must learn to accept rather than address and discuss. I would rather challenge both sides to really consider this issue and to think about how this divide is grounded in generalizations and unfair stereotypes on both sides. I feel that even though both groups share the fact that they have to balance academics with extracurricular activities, both groups defer to their differences rather than point to their similarities. I urge us all to think twice before we blindly categorize anybody simply because of the way in which he chooses to spend his time after 4 p.m.

In the aftermath of the recent CC elections, this divide was brought to light and highlighted an area of the social culture here at Williams that needs to addressed rather than brushed under the rug. My fellow students, the truth is that at the end of the day, we all bleed purple because we all belong at Williams.

Ifiok Inyang ’11 is from Newark, N.J. He lives in Currier Hall ­­­­­­­­. He is the newly elected Minority Concerns representative to CC.