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Op Ed: Responding to The Campus, A Look at Athletic Privilege

Today, we have an op-ed in from middbeat contributers Aleck Silva-Pinto ’16 and Lizzy Weiss ’17 on the ongoing discussion surrounding the article about athletic privilege recently published by The Campus. The article has certainly sparked a lively debate, and here is yet another take on the issue. Read up, post replies, and feel free to submit your own opinion piece to the middbeat gmail ([email protected]). 

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Did this Yak bring you here? If it did– good! We wrote it.

When soon-to-be graduates Isaac Baker ‘14.5 and Hannah Bristol ‘14.5 published an article for The Campus entitled “It’s Actually Just a Game,” students took to Facebook and Yik Yak to add their voices to the debate. Too often, the yaks and anonymous comments on the online version of the article were vitriolic personal attacks on the authors that offered little substance. We will leave it to you to note the hypocrisy of a yak that criticized the cowardice of publishing a controversial opinion just weeks before graduation– because that anonymous yak really makes you brave.

We felt the need to post an inflammatory yak about our own article because it seems like members of our community are only willing to engage in debate when they feel like they have some skin in the game. Athletic privilege is a hot-button topic, but it took a slightly radical (although we would argue not too radical) piece to get us to have this conversation. So a big shout out to Hannah and Isaac for starting this debate. Clearly, it’s one we need to have.

Our campus is small enough that anonymity can feel essential when talking about controversial issues. No one wants to estrange those they are close to despite their own strongly held convictions. Therefore, we applaud Jake Nidenberg ’16 for submitting a response to The Campus. Though we disagree with him on some points, his willingness to be held accountable for his opinion is laudable.

This point being made, let’s get on to the issue itself.

In many of the responses to Bristol and Baker’s article and also in the middbeat audio piece, students have tended to defend the academic standing of athletes, either through anecdotal evidence or uncited statistics. We would argue that these defenses stem from the very true and acknowledged reality that many of the athletes on our campus are in fact high-achieving, well-rounded students. Many respondents cite their NARP-athlete relationships as further proof that the social boundaries are not nearly as rigid as presented by The Campus article. The bottom line is this: most students seemed to want to say, athletes are just like us.” 

We agree! We are also friends with athletes. They are real people too. And many of them are incredible individuals with a wide variety of interests that extends beyond sports.

However, just because a male lacrosse player is also a ballet dancer and hikes Snake Mountain every weekend with his community friend does not mean that he is exempt from the inherent privilege that comes with being a member of a team. 

This is the crux of our argument: Privilege cannot be dismantled by individuals defying stereotypes. Instead, the privilege granted to athletes on this campus is engrained in the cultural makeup of this institution.

Where The Campus article got into trouble on this point was their lack of hard facts. The reality is this: when talking about athletic privilege, many of us want to make a point about the admissions process, about class selection advising, about room draw advantages; but the facts and quantitative evidence are just not there. 

So why don’t we hold off on baseless attacks on the institutional advantages given to athletes. Instead, let’s talk about the perception of social privilege reserved for members of certain teams.

Let’s call a spade a spade. The Campus article was not talking about the women’s softball team or the men’s cross country team. There are athletes on this campus who enjoy a special social standing not granted to every member of the athletic community or the Middlebury community as a whole.

It’s hard to articulate exactly what that social privilege looks like. In our experience, something happens almost immediately during freshman year. A group of students, determined by certain social parameters, gravitate towards one another and their counterparts in the grades above. They join, as we call it, ‘the scene.’

Is this different from when the canoe-paddling, Carhartt-wearing, Chakko-strapping, freshmen start hanging out at Brooker? Not necessarily. It’s a natural tendency.

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Middbeat Crush of the Week! Kayla Nahi ’18

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This week we bring you a new crush! Kayla Nahi is a gorgeous freshman who aspires to be a computer science major.  She was a bit coy at the beginning of the interview, but she began to show her true colors as the interview proceeded.  Watch out men, Kayla is the real deal!

Middbeat: Start with your name, year, and hometown.
Kayla: Okay, um, my name is Kayla, my hometown is San Francisco, and I’m a freshman.

MB: Interesting. Kayla, what’s your spirit animal?
K: My sister is always an elephant and I was always a giraffe when I was younger so I guess giraffe.

MB: What do you generally do on a Wednesday night?
K: On a Wednesday night?
MB: That’s tonight, what are you doing tonight? Yeah what are your plans, what are you up to?
K: I mean we have a huge presentation today and a big paper due on friday so probably tonight I’ll be working, but , I guess just, hanging out with the Allen crew.

MB: What quality do you find most attractive in your sexual preference?
K: hmm…

MB: Are you interested in men or women?
K: Men

MB:What quality do you find most attractive in men?
K: Probably sense of humor

MB:That’s a good one. How would you describe the Midd dating scene in one sentence?
K: [Laughs] , random hookups or committed relationships

MB: That’s definitely fair. What’s your j-term class right now?
K: Social and environmental justice

MB: How’s that going?
K: Okay, hard but good.

MB: What’s the funniest thing you’ve done over j-term?
K: The funniest thing I’ve done over j-term… [laughs] it’s not really funny but I slipped and fell down almost the entirety of Chapel hill.

MB: [Laughs] that is pretty funny. If you could be anywhere right now, other than Middlebury College, where would you be?
K: Probably home in San Francisco.

MB: What was your childhood screenname, like AOL?
K: Oh this is super embarrassing: I was ksnowprincess. [laughs]

MB: So there’s a question here that is beach or snow, I’m assuming the answer is snow?
K: oh, snow no question.

MB: What’s your ideal date night or day look like at Middlebury?
K: Okay, probably skiing during the day, and then, I was gonna say walk, but no… maybe then going to a restaurant in town.

MB: Do you have a restaurant you prefer in town?
K: Yes, i love the Lobby.

MB: Classic that’s a good one. What are your thoughts on seafood?
K: I like sushi but not much else.

MB: Okay, what about your favorite type of cheese?
K: Hmm, I’m not sure about that one.

MB: Okay just cheese in general? Do you like cheese?
K: Sure, yeah [laughs]

MB: What’s your favorite accessory?
K: Watch. Yeah, my watch.

MB: If you could date a professor, who would it be?
K: [Laughs] woah.
MB: That’s not even the most inappropriate question so get ready.
K: I have not met a professor yet that I would like to date.

MB: Do you believe in god?
K: I don’t believe in God.

MB: If you could break any law what would it be?
K: I don’t know if I need to break any laws [laughs].

MB: What’s on your Midd bucket list?
K: Oh, I want to, there are a lot of things. I want to go stargazing in the bihall observatory, I want to spend like a couple weeks doing everything on campus except going to Atwater.

MB: That is fair. So the related question is what is your ideal night out at Midd?
K: Probably starting the night with just a bunch of girls, then going and dancing somewhere, nondescript location.

MB: Not atwater though?
K: As long as there’s dancing

MB: Okay, favorite atwater lunch?
K: I kind of am a vegetarian here so I don’t have one specific lunch. I tend to opt for salads.

MB: Who is your favorite author?
K: That’s hard.
MB: Hard because you don’t have an answer or hard because you don’t read?
K: Hard because I have so many! Also, they change constantly.  It totally depends on who I’m reading.
MB: Who are you reading right now?
K: Recently I read Jack Kerouac’s book The Dharma Bums. So I guess I could say Kerouac.

MB: What do you want to be when you grow up?
K: I want to use computer science to do environmental work.

MB: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
K: When people aren’t respectful to teachers. That really bugs me.

MB: What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you this week? And the best?
K: Worst? Probably falling down [laughs].  Best? Best was probably last night.
MB: What happened last night?
K: We just had a really great of girls from all over campus hanging out. We went out after, but the best part was just mingling with different groups of girls.

MB: What’s on your mind these days?
K: Probably going home.
MB: Are you going home for Feb Break?
K: Yes! I’m excited.

MB: Favorite way to eat a potato?
K: Mashed

MB: Did you make a new year’s resolution?
K: No
MB: Do you not believe in them?
K: No. Not really. People don’t really keep them so it’s not really worth it.

MB: What’s the scariest thing you have done during J-term?
K: Scariest? I think I have decided to declare my major as cs [computer science]. That’s pretty scary, but exciting.

MB: For the purpose article we have to ask you, what’s your relationship status?
K: [Laughs] I’m single.

MB: Are you looking for something?
K: I’m unsure. Maybe. Maybe if the right person comes along.

Flippant Clothing

four shirts overhead

Seniors Logan Miller and Mike Peters ’15 have an alternative for your Midd swag in the form of nonfunctional clothing that’s on the verge of becoming a fashion phenomenon.  Fresh colors, flipped pockets, perfect for parties, Flippant shirts are dope.  The founders write in:

Upside down pockets?  So they don’t even do anything!?

That’s correct.  Logan and Peters have developed a proprietary blend of impracticality, uselessness and neat colors.  The result: flippant clothing.  Shirts and tanks with upside down pockets.  Why? It’s fun, different and useless. To support a growing business and find out more about the lifestyle, see below:

Go here to join a grassroots movement of organic nonfunctionality.  Proceeds from the first 100 shirts sold will go toward the official, unofficial, flippant Launch Party this spring, dedicated to our flippant Middlebury supporters.

Learn even less about the shirts and the lifestyle at the website or on instagram @flippant_life

Today: Screenings on Screenings

If you’re not lucky enough to be bouncing out of here a little early today, you are even LUCKIER to get to stay for some awesome screenings tonight. Come check out what everyone in the collaborative video J-term class has been working on this past month. Here are a few flicks you’ll get to catch:

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Date: Today 1/29
Time: 7:30
Place: Dana Auditorium
Cost: Free

Meeting Re: Community, Diversity, and Inclusion 4:30

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In case you missed Ron’s email, there will be a meeting regarding community, diversity, and inclusion on campus, continuing this past fall’s discussion of campus social life which transformed into the above concerns within the student body.  The event begins at 4:30 in the McCullough Social Space (aka Wilson Hall).  See Ron’s invite below:

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Please join us for a campus-wide conversation on community, diversity, and inclusion at Middlebury, today, Thursday, January 29 from 4:30-6:00 in Wilson Hall.  I will be joined by a group of students and members of Community Council who worked together to organize this gathering.  The idea for this gathering was pitched in response to the social life discussion held last fall, and will allow us to explore some of the critical concerns shared by many members of this community.  All students, staff, and faculty are welcome to attend.

 

Best,

Ron

When: Today, 4:30 PM
Where: McCullough
Cost: nope

Japanese Boat Launching–Setting Sail In The Pool

The Kessen Gawa pictured on the left, the Ayubune on the right.

The Kessen Gawa pictured on the left, the Ayubune on the right.

After almost a month of laborious and Cedar-splinter filled work, The J-Term Japanese Boat Building class will be launching their two finished wooden vessels in the Middlebury Natatorium at 6:45 PM this evening. Taught by boat builder, writer and teacher (shisho), Douglas Brooks, this course focused on a study of Japanese culture, models of education, and traditional boat building.

Over the course of J-Term 15 Middlebury students met four days a week to build one eel fishing river boat, called Kessen Gawa, and one whitefish boat, called Ayubune, primarily built using traditional Japanese tools.

From 4-6 PM the boats will be exhibited in Johnson Hall accompanied by a small mock-bamboo-forest. At 6 PM the class will carry the boats to the athletic center swimming pool upon which time they will conduct a traditional Shinto launching ceremony. There will be a small, primarily ceremonial, quantity of saké.

So come join the class and the rest of the Middlebury community for this evening’s launching ceremony! Hopefully you will see some traditional and exquisitely designed Japanese boats float, and at the very worst, see them sink–which probably would be pretty cool too. 

When: Thursday, January 29 @ 4-6 & 6:45

Where: Johnson Hall & Middlebury swimming pool

Cost: A jovial spirit

Weekly Hump Day HornHub: Human Horn

Tickets On Sale Tonight: Winter Carnival Jamboree

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Ready to think about spring semester yet? Yeah, you’re not alone. But if you’re already dreading the uptick in academics and slow decline of nights when it’s socially acceptable to drink, here’s a little something to look forward to! Heads up: tickets go on sale tonight at midnight! Matt Butler ’15 writes in to middbeat: 

Start that spring semester off right with the musical stylings of CLOUD NOTHINGS and VACATIONER. 2 great bands, 1 excellent night, all in the spirit of the tradition that is Winter Carnival.
Cloud Nothings – Fast, loud, balls to the walls. Cloud Nothings is grungegaragepunk done right- super catchy hooks, bangin drums and high-voltage energy.

Vacationer – Their second trip to Middlebury in four years, Vacationer creates a ’70s, psychedelic pop sound dripping in dreamy funk. Summer sounds for days. Doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it in February, eh?

Date: February 13th
Time: 8-11PM
Place: Wilson Hall (Social Space)
Cost: $5 in advance/$8 at the door

SOON! Students for Design Activism in the CFA!

 

Design projects will pop-up in the CFA lobby areas for the exhibit of the Design Activism studio. Munch on the free food served while exploring the effect of design activism on everyday life, the public sphere, and the built environment. There is some human interaction and material experimentation.

When: 12 pm- 3 pm
Where: CFA Lobby areas
Cost: Free! (free food!)