All letters to the editor should be kept to a length of 600 words and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. While all of the writers of these letters have been identified, some chose to be known only by their first names.
Everyone should feel safe regardless of their opinions, but there’s a difference between comfort and safety. Oppression is more than being uncomfortable; it’s systemic, cruel or unjust treatment. Currently, queer people feel uncomfortable and unsafe every day. In order to move towards a society where everyone can feel safe, some discomfort is inevitable for everyone. Our goal is to raise awareness, not to make anyone feel guilty. We urge people to remember that it is impossible to fully understand oppression unless you have lived as an oppressed person. We acknowledge that we have lived lives of privilege, being white and able-bodied individuals, and have not experienced those forms of oppression. That being said, we both have encountered queer oppression similar to Hayley Brooks.
Since Hayley’s article a few weeks ago, there has been a lot of discussion about the hiring policy and queer issues. Many people dismiss her voice as melodramatic and aggressive, which we find troubling. In the article, her voice represents a larger community and she shouldn’t be dismissed as overdramatizing her experience.
I (Elizabeth) identify as asexual, meaning I do not experience attraction to other people, regardless of gender. People constantly question and doubt the validity of my identity. Generally, they think I have a medical problem or am repressed, neither of which is true. Attraction is more than biological urges or stimulating nerve endings. I have never felt any sexual attraction for another person and I don’t know if I ever will. If I do, their gender identity is irrelevant to me. I was forced to confront my asexuality when my boyfriend sexually assaulted me in high school. Although the assault was not violent or overtly aggressive, it was still nonconsensual. If people know that I had negative experiences with sex, they assume that the trauma “made” me asexual. This way of thinking neatly explains my queer identity, but it’s not true. I was never attracted to people prior to the trauma. While I admit I harbored fear and anxiety related to sex and sexuality for a long time, I’ve already addressed that pain and I’m still not attracted to anyone.
Many people respond this way when a queer person has been assaulted. Despite its allure, this thought process undermines our voices and contributes to marginalization. Sexual assault is alarmingly common, yet most victims still identify as heterosexual, cisgender and allosexual (the opposite of asexual) after the trauma. Being sexually assaulted did not make me asexual, and yet I am told on a daily basis that my identity is invalid and a product of my experiences. I’ve been called repressed, broken and defective. These characterizations are not only untrue, they are hurtful to me and to other queer people who have experienced trauma.
I (Jake) have also experienced discrimination as a genderqueer individual. Since I recently discovered my queerness, I am still exploring ways to present myself that are true to my gender identity. Often, I experiment with androgynous clothing and dabble in stereotypically feminine presentations.
When I present more androgynously, some people give me funny looks, and others don’t look at me at all, even when we’re talking. The worst experience I had was at Kick-Off. As I was walking to the bathroom, two men I didn’t know catcalled me. It wasn’t a joking catcall, but was intended to wound. It made me feel helpless, small and close to tears. I’ve never felt so self-conscious and exposed in my life. Remember that criticism about me or the way I look concerns my personal identity. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.
For us, this is not a policy issue; it’s about feeling safe on campus. This is not just a philosophical debate. Having an opinion about this issue means having an opinion about individual people with real feelings. No one person is at fault for institutionalized oppression, but we, collectively, need to be aware of our sources of privilege and how they affect oppressed communities.
We would both be happy to discuss sexuality, gender identity and our experiences. Keep in mind that these issues are very personal, so please respect any boundaries we might establish.
- Jake S. and Elizabeth B.
There have been a lot of comments on both the article about the yellow shirts and Hayley’s perspective piece, some of which I think are getting fairly hurtful and harmful. Both Ryan and Hayley were brave enough to put their names on and in those articles. A part of me wishes that the writers of the comments that are posted would have to identify themselves as well.
It’s much easier to say things that are more harmful when you can hide behind an alias. It doesn’t give anyone a fair chance to face those who are arguing them and it also makes it unclear who those individuals should avoid if they so choose to do so. I’m just concerned about the perceived safety for individuals on campus at this point.
Golf should remain at Goshen College
I am sorry to see the Golf program dropped from Goshen College athletics.
My grand-daughter who is three and a half years old will start playing this summer. No lessons; just follow grandma K and her dad around the course with her own clubs (thanks to Greg Hire, GC golf coach). The High-Line course here on campus is the perfect spot for young and old alike. Not many colleges our size can boast about an on campus golf facility.
Golf is a multi-cultural event. It is played around the world. It puts people in contact with the environment….environmental stewardship (yes there are “green” courses out there). New courses limit pesticide use, enhance wildlife habitats, use solar powered carts, and protect local marsh and river ecosystems. Why is Goshen College not integrating our golf program into our Sustainability and Environmental Education Department, or the Biology and Business Departments offering Golf course management major or minor. Goshen College needs to partner with local courses, not only to have a golf team, but to use local courses as research opportunities in sustainability. We lose perspective students because we limit our imagination. Athletics can and should enhance our educational goals.
Golf demands commitment; it is a life-long learning experience with many teachable moments. Golf teaches us integrity, respect, problem solving, physics, accountability, sportsmanship, environmental stewardship; all attributes we wish our student-athletes to possess. Golf requires a sustained faith in others as well as ourselves. It can be solitary or a great social event. Golf is played to fund charities, it is played in business outings, in friendship, and played by families. Golf is a peaceful sport. We are often challenged to refrain from throwing clubs, or yelling out obscene utterances as we appeal to the “Almighty” to instantly save our poor shots from veering off the fairway and into some abyss. Humility is always a good lesson.
On the “hole,” I wish our decision makers will reconsider this “bogey” of sorts and turn it into an “eagle”. Please return the Golf program, as it can be successful when resources are used wisely.
-Linda K Kaminskis