As campus continues to respond to the Wood House party, so do the conversations on athletic privilege and trust within the College community. Athletes and non-athletes alike have questioned: Where do we go from here?
Some, like Young, called for broad changes to the student-athlete culture and discourse at the College. “I would urge people who are focusing their energy on the ‘student-athlete with target on the back’ discussion to shift that and to realize how centering that is,” Young said. “You’re centering yourself in this discussion that should really be about preserving the safety of the campus.”
For Vargas, the process of healing starts with conversation between athletes and non-athletes. “I think what’s really important to get out there is, I don’t think people say a lot of the stuff they say with malicious intent,” she said. “I just think they don’t realize how harmful and hurtful it is to a large population at the school.”
In particular, rhetoric that invalidates the academic merit of athletes is unhelpful and frustrating, said Vargas, who is a first-generation student. Instead, she said, sports teams should work alongside the administration and the rest of the College community to make broader institutional changes to reflect a dedication in diversity and inclusion.
“Almost all of us [on softball] are all public school kids,” she said. “A lot of us are first-gen students, a lot of us come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, different religious backgrounds, different racial backgrounds… I think we can always do a better job of it, and I think Williams needs to do a better job of making our campus a more accessible place for especially marginalized communities, but I think to just blame athletics as the problem isn’t really getting to it.”
Much like the athletes, Hatfield said non-athletes should reflect upon themselves as well during a time when emotions tend to run high.
“I hope that the conversation takes a more productive turn,” Hatfield said. “A lot of non-athletes are enjoying that athletes are being punished for once, and I don’t think that it’s a productive way to channel their anger about athletic culture. I think we need to find out why we’re angry and articulate that, and have a real discussion about athletic culture rather than just getting caught up in the drama.”
“Having conversation in friendships and relationships between people who are athletes and non-athletes, I hope, will slowly get rid of the divide,” Holmes said. “I think it’s all about building the community, the connections between people… Hopefully we can use [the anger] to make our community safer and help close the divide that, I mean, everyone sees.”