Letters to the Editor

WC Athlete Defends Men’s Lacrosse Team

Dear Editor,

In response to the article about the men’s lacrosse sanctions being reduced, I would like to point out that The Elm has yet to get a comment from a current athlete, or one who has an opinion that agreed with the reduction. As a current athlete here at Washington College, I would like to offer that opposing view point.

As President Baird Tipson mentioned in the article, a petition went around to several sports teams, and many athletes voiced their opinions clearly by signing and disagreeing with the Honor Board’s decision. This incident was taken up by the athletic department right after it happened. There were punishments dealt out to the team at this time, including the suspension of many players. By the time the Honor Board hearing came along, this situation had been long over.

The men’s lacrosse team, as commented on in the article by a player, has learned from this situation and matured as a team. They have done things on and off campus to prove their dedication to their team, community, and this school, including helping out with the dishes in the dining hall and helping to shovel snow at Chester River Hospital.

I believe this team has a great opportunity ahead of them to prove that they can overcome this and grow. The Honor Board seemed to simply open up old wounds. I believe that their decision to remove the players from the team was not appropriate. Some of those players were the ones working the hardest to make a change to prevent this kind of thing. Removing their leadership from the team was not the proper way to handle the situation. This does not mean that further punishment was not needed, but the complete removal of these players would have been detrimental to the team and would have prevented them from being able to move on from this incident.

This incident was an awful one and the team faced the consequences given to them by the athletic department. I believe that the same assumptions that Professor Corey Olsen mentioned in the article about the Lacrosse team on campus could have an effect on the Honor Board’s decision. Along with these assumptions comes blind criticism of these individuals, which is being made throughout the WC community by students and teachers alike. It was especially apparent in the recent letter to the editor by Mac Boyle, where senseless bashing of the men’s lacrosse team and of all athletes at WC took place.

I know that many seem to think that the men’s lacrosse team has been given favorable treatment at this school, however I would also like to point out that it is an important part of WC’s history and continues to be. I think any animosity that remains from other sports teams or students on campus is because of the amount of privileges and rewards that the men’s lacrosse team receives. These things come because of the strong connection that men’s lacrosse alumni have with this school. Playing lacrosse here had a strong impact on their lives and supporting the new team is a way to show the program gratitude for this impact.

I don’t think that the team believes that they can get away with things or can receive special privileges because of this decision. The issue of hazing is very serious and should not be taken lightly. The reduction of the sanctions does not contradict that message and I hope that as a student body we can realize this and move on.

M. K. J. ’12

Athlete Fires Back at Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I would like to offer a few rebuttals to the recent letter to the editor, “Student Questions Athletes’ Hazing Incident,” which concerned the purpose of members of the men’s lacrosse team on campus. As a fellow student athlete, I would like to make it clear that the accusation that the only role that these student athletes play on our campus is to win games is utterly false. Regardless of any contempt for President Baird Tipson’s administrative sanctions imposed on the men’s lacrosse team, to suppose that these members attend this college solely for the purpose of athletic glory is preposterous and insulting to both the student athletes and the college as an institution.

The troubling activity that some members of the men’s lacrosse team took part in is in no way a reflection of their academic character and for it to be implied that they do not contribute to the academic environment is extremely offensive.

As for the claim that the people affiliated “evaded punishment” I would like to say this much: Imagine if you were prohibited from doing something in which you have invested so much of your time (perhaps hanging out in the Lit House and playing with that cat that is seemingly cherished so much) for days or weeks on end. It would hardly appear that one had evaded any sort of punishment. The players involved (and those players not involved for that matter) have essentially been given a scarlet letter that they must carry with them from now on.

Please do not be presumptuous in thinking that the men’s lacrosse team considers themselves “bulletproof.”

If anything, this occurrence has been a wakeup call to any athlete (playing any sport at Washington College) that had previously felt or behaved in this manner. No student at WC should feel as if he or she is in danger of “sanctioned criminal activity on campus,” particularly because the incident occurred off campus before the resumption of classes for the spring semester.

The true occurrences of that night are known between the people who were involved and the administration. It is not appropriate for other students to judge the members of the lacrosse team when they know neither the full story of the incident nor the actual sanctions that were imposed.

This response is not meant to be taken for approval of the men’s lacrosse team’s actions. I will in all manners admit that its misconduct was inappropriate and not befitting of representatives of WC. That being said, many allegations concerning the academic aptitude of the lacrosse team were made based on spurious rumors centered on an incident that has little to do with academic character. As for the sarcastic regulation proposal mentioned that would allow a generous yet firm number of transgressions for this team to commit before punishment, let’s not be dramatic.

I would like to propose one final question for consideration: Do you think the fact that this incident occurred within the men’s lacrosse team (as opposed to another sports team or extracurricular organization) has made the incident gather more publicity because of a certain perception that this team is associated with?

Caroline Stanley ‘12

Alumnus Outraged Over Tipson’s LAX Decision

Dear Editor,

As an Alumnus of Washington College, I was quite dismayed to learn of President Baird Tipson’s actions regarding the men’s lacrosse team during a recent visit to my Alma Mater. As a former student, I can recall a time when the Honor Board at WC was respected by the students, faculty, and the administration. However, in light of recent events, it seems as though the WC administration has unilaterally decided that the Honor Board is obsolete. Yes, that is rather harsh verbiage, however actions do indeed speak louder than words, and when a college administrator decides to overturn the ruling of a board designed to uphold the honor of said college, what more can one say?

Personally, Tipson’s actions disgust me. I will not deny that, during my time as a student at WC, I still respected Tipson even though he usually wouldn’t deign to converse with or even look at the students; I chalked it up to eccentricity. However, after learning of his actions in over-turning the ruling of the Honor Board, I have lost total respect for this man.

Further, if one is going to be “radical,” as I’m assuming Tipson believes he is being by issuing second chances, one must also be prepared to explain their actions. However, Tipson and the lacrosse team coaches have been exceedingly mum on the subject. Don’t be afraid Tipson; stand up for what you believe in. If you believe whole-heartedly that these gentlemen who were accused/convicted of hazing deserve a second chance and essentially no consequences, then tell the world! Be proud of your decision, Tipson! Yet, he won’t because he knows that in pardoning the entire team, his actions were inexcusable. He has given the men’s lacrosse team its own form of WC diplomatic immunity, and for what? The chance of something better than a 9-7 season? Does lacrosse really bring in that many students and that much money that Tipson would feel comfortable sacrificing his integrity in order to maintain the monetary influx status quo? Apparently so, and I pity those students not privileged enough to be a part of this elite squad of students/athletes who can do no wrong; WC’s own aristocracy. I pity them for this reason: Tipson has clearly shown that academics are irrelevant when compared to the winning possibilities of a sports team. College is a bust; go pro or go home.

I would also like to make clear my acknowledgement that, while I believe that the lacrosse team’s actions in the hazing incident were despicable, they cannot be held accountable for their pardon. Tipson pardoned these gentlemen of his own free will and volition, and he is therefore solely responsible for not allowing the Honor Board to uphold its duties to discipline those who violate the rules of WC. Further, I would push for the other athletes and fraternities who have been hounded year in and year out for hazing to request the leniency granted to the lacrosse team. If it can haze, then make it universal. Why should it matter now if a student is required to clean up after a party or drink massive quantities of alcohol without puking in order to prove himself? Either the rules apply to all or they apply to none.

Finally, I would like to say that even though Tipson has decided to issue a pardon to certain individuals, the Honor Board, in my opinion, still has a duty to uphold their decision and fight for the rights of the hazed individual. Just because Tipson has made his will known, this does not negate the Honor Board’s role. Call the media! Have an open conference where the student body can come and confront Tipson’s partiality. Do not let this student’s plight go un-disciplined! Many times a student won’t fight for themselves due to peer pressures or fear of public opinion, but the Honor Board’s duty and responsibility is to fight for these students and discipline the known perpetrators. The Honor Board doesn’t have to be obsolete; it just has to stand up for the values it was founded on and evolve. Stand up, Honor Board; stand and uphold the Honor Code, rules, and civic values that should exemplify WC, its students and its leaders!

Ricky Callahan Jr ’09

Giving Back to Veterans

Dear Editor,

After having done their duty, after the thousands of American service men and women return from harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan—a surge expected to return in the coming months— it’s our turn to serve.

Throughout the Veterans Affairs (VA) Maryland Health Care System, an army of employees and volunteers stands ready to serve America’s newest generation of combat veterans. In fiscal year 2009, close to 1,000 community volunteers devoted more than 96,000 hours worth more than $1.1 million to honoring and serving Maryland’s veterans at three VA inpatient facilities and five community based outpatient clinics throughout the state.

During National Volunteer Week, April 18-24, the Virginia Maryland Health Care System plans activities and recognition banquets to thank volunteers who make a difference in veterans’ lives. This year, more than 30 volunteers—including adults and teens—are being honored with the prestigious Presidential Volunteer Service and other awards, a small way to recognize and thank those indefatigable men and women serving Maryland’s veterans.

Volunteers play a crucial role in the services veterans receive through the VA health care system, not only here in Maryland, but across the country. They offer a link to the community, remind veterans that their service has not been forgotten, and often provide the only visits for some veterans whose families are distant or non-existent. Volunteers work in inpatient units, at community living centers and in pharmacies, and work as drivers to help bring patients to and from medical appointments. Some participate in recreational activities, birthday celebrations, and holiday events, and others simply sit and visit with veterans, helping improve their overall quality of life.

Veterans gave their best for our nation. We have an obligation to honor and respect their service, and volunteers fulfill that obligation daily. National Volunteer Week is a good time to learn about volunteer opportunities within the VA Maryland Health Care System. Call 1-800-463-6295, ext. 5505 or visit: http://www.maryland.va.gov/MARYLAND/giving/volunteer_give.asp.

We can all show our gratitude and support to Maryland’s service men and women by volunteering for Veterans during National Volunteer Week.

Dennis H. Smith

Director, VA Maryland Health Care System

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