“Men don’t cheer!” cried several male student athletes during the men’s basketball game against Hope College on Saturday Feb. 19. Decked in school colors, sports bands, and homemade white t-shirts displaying their K College pride, they came equipped with markers and enough blank poster boards to last the entire game.
They stood underneath the home basket, in front of the cluster of K students stacked on the bleachers, competing with the cheers of the equally large and spirited Hope supporters across the gym.
The group of male students cheered again: “We’re still smarter!” to which Head Coach Robert Passage yelled “Cut that shit out!” because these claims had nothing to do with the match.
Maybe it was the frustration of an inevitable loss talking, but that wasn’t justification for the awkward cheers that provoked stares of disbelief from animated Hope fans.
Was “smarter” the right adjective to assign to our student body at the end of the game? Those K College students standing underneath the hoop were not part of an organized cheerleading squad like the men from Hope, but they were cheering just the same.
Moments like this force students to question what is at the core of our campus identity, how we can define it, and who has the power to do so. This situation creates an interesting dichotomy on campus in the quest to answer that question.
On one hand, attendance at events like Crystal Ball and drag shows sponsored by Kaleidoscope and LGBTQI attest to our general desire to raise awareness of such taboo topics like gender and sexuality. On the other hand, the chants of the male students at the game against Hope demonstrate that not all members of the campus community may proclaim this tolerance.
Our apparent façade of acceptance of others who are different, or of those we know little about, was challenged. A small minority of male students had the ability to project an image of our college as narrow-minded that afternoon, and there were a number of students present at the game who didn’t want to be associated with that specific quality.
Hopefully the crowd from Hope was able to look past those cheers and abandon the bold generalization that the rest of us will perpetuate that ideology.
But there is also a minority of students on campus, members of groups like Kaleidoscope and POWER, who want to educate our campus, and who have the ability to project the opposite image – tolerance.
It seems like those select few students or student groups who are the most vocal on this campus are the ones who establish the college’s identity… so where does that leave the part of the student population that doesn’t agree with either ideology?