MUCK-RAKE CENTER, Amherst, Ma. – It is time to give athletes the respect they deserve. Professor Thomas L. Dumm’s hurtful Amherst Student editorial, “The Elephant in the Room,” opened our eyes to the war on sport that is waged against varsity athletes at this college every day, and we cannot continue to stand idly by as rampant discrimination occurs before our eyes. As long as people of sport are expected to spend their time in a bleak, distant, state-of-the-art, multilevel dungeon like Alumni Gymnasium, their professors and classmates will continue to view them as mysterious human death machines. Therefore, we must move the gym to a more visible location, one where all students can socialize, work, and exert themselves to the point of physical sickness together.
Relocating the gym to the second floor of Keefe Campus Center would begin the process of healing, fully integrating people of sport into campus life, a crucial step in creating the truly diverse community this college so vocally desires,while simultaneously relieving the strain on the college’s overcrowded athletic facilities. The move would allow a student studying in Schwemm’s Coffee House to get acquainted with their classmates of sport on a human level—to hear their grunts, to smell their sweat. As it stands, the college radio station occupies three spacious rooms on Keefe’s second floor, two of which are empty at most hours, while an athlete’s exultation after putting up an impressive weight could potentially fall on deaf ears. The Student’s second-floor office has iMacs collecting dust, while a squash player often has to wait for court space if she wants to bring her entire high school along to practice with the team.
Amherst’s true “elephant in the room” is the geographic and social segregation of varsity athletes that pervades every aspect of campus life. Aside from Alumni’s distant location, people of sport are consistently herded into the barracks at the back of Valentine Dining Hall to be fed an inhumane diet of eggs and chocolate milk. They have been ghettoized to the Social Quad, deprived of cell reception and pushed away from popular social events like those at the Cadigan Center. Moving the gym would be the first step in putting a stop to what some have rightly deemed “asportheid,” an institutional aggression that cannot stand.
“Amherst College educates men and women of exceptional potential from all backgrounds so that they may seek, value, and advance knowledge, engage the world around them, and lead principled lives of consequence.”
So goes the Amherst College mission statement. We must honor it by allowing students from all backgrounds, including those with natural athletic talent and a superb work ethic, to become more integrated into the college’s otherwise tight-knit community. The wounds wrought by athletic discrimination may take years to heal, but relocating the gym is a step in the right direction.