Following an appeal for anonymity by the authors of this letter to the editor under safety concerns, The Index’s editorial board voted to grant the request. The Index reaffirms that the views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of The Index’s editorial board, or of its general staff.
This article addresses the recruiting methods of the Kalamazoo College football team and the various responses to the article, “Coach’s Recruiting Tactics Raise Questions.” We hope to use our words to generate a positive, campus-wide reflection amongst Kalamazoo College students, staff, and faculty.
As cisgender females, we wish to remain anonymous after witnessing the emotional, digital, verbal, mental, and physical abuses that Dunham, Perkins, and others have received from select football players and other students in response to Dunham’s article.* Such responses were the primary motivator behind our writing this. We aspire to shed light on the intent of Dunham’s original piece and how its message has been misconstrued.
The purpose of Dunham’s article was to address a tradition of sexist recruiting tactics being used by the football coaches. The tradition, that has been in place since before Coach Zorbo worked at K, is one that was perhaps continued naïvely, but is still inherently sexist. It is an example of the sexism and, arguably, the ignorance, which continues to plague the world in many ways.
As an institution, Kalamazoo College has continuously made strides to combat sexism. The coaches’ permission and promotion to choose untrained, young, female athletes (who are considered “better looking” than the coaches and players) to give tours to football recruits and their families does not only call into question the ethics of the program, but is also an insult to Kalamazoo College and women at large. This recruitment tactic is of no “favor” to the school or its athletic program; rather, it is an outdated, sexist “tradition” that deteriorates the school’s progress towards social justice.
While the football program and some school administrators justified choosing only females as tour guides as providing a new insight into the diversity of K and the “…the whole broad range of opportunities and people that are here…”, it is hard to ignore the demographics of the women who were chosen to lead the tours. All were white females (who are primarily athletes)—this is a far cry from the diversity that K has to offer. Choosing untrained females not only disrespects the tour guides qualified by admissions, but also prevents football recruits from being exposed to the various opportunities K boasts.
Hornet football players perceived Dunham’s article as a personal attack rather than an informative article. This misinterpretation led to some inappropriate responses towards Dunham and took away from the potential lesson of her article. As aforementioned, she attempted to highlight the inherently sexist systems that exist, not personally criticize the football team. The actions and harassment from certain football players should serve as a tool for reflection and inspiration for action.
Coach Zorbo said, “I just want to reiterate that if we offended someone I sincerely apologize for that.” It is crucial to point out that the football coaching staff has upset many people on campus, not just one person.
We propose that the coaching staff apologizes to the students and faculty affected and disappointed by their tactics. We also hope to hear a public response from President Wilson-Oyelaran, addressing the issue at hand and guiding us down a path of understanding and change.
Dunham’s article provides an opportunity for a conversation on campus between both students and faculty; a conversation that was, and still is, necessary. It is time that our campus becomes more aware of its actions and recognizes problematic social structures and preexisting practices that people (even if unknowingly) uphold.
*For more information about what qualifies as the six types of abuse, check out www.projectpave.org/6-types-abuse
*For information on Kalamazoo College’s Title IX policy check out https://reason.kzoo.edu/titleix/