The independent student newspaper of Goucher College

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Michael Layer

Michael Layer has 7 articles published.

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Michael Layer Current writer Former soccer player Class of 2017 Gopher

Goucher Athletics: The Only Constant is Change

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“I’ve been [at Goucher] for 23 years and I think for 19 years that I’ve been here, the campus has been under construction,” Director of Athletics Geoffrey Miller said, remarking on his time at Goucher. One of Goucher’s most substantial reconstructions has not been residence halls or academic buildings, but of the Athletic Department.
Recent dramatic changes, like a new logo and the introduction of Rowdy, have become talking points on campus and online. Travis Holland ’02, wrote on the Goucher Athletics Facebook page, “I’ll never love Rowdy as much as I did for Mortimer…,” while current students shared similar discontent on Facebook. Miller understands the criticism and meets change with optimism. In October, he referred to the change as “turning the page on a new chapter” and “I knew it was going to be different… It’s been 20 years… I knew it was time to get a fresh look.” In April 2017, he remarked, “I like change. I don’t want to stay the same.”
In fact, Miller says that he joined Goucher from Washington College, back in 1994, because “that [Washington College] was an institution that was okay with the status quo. It wasn’t receptive to change… This institution [Goucher] wanted to be better. This institution is like a rising star.”
“It’s easy for people to get caught up in the visible, tangible changes – [that can be a new] logo, a new athletic deal, stuff like that – because it’s in front of everybody… It’s easy to react to those things, but [people often] don’t understand a lot of times the little things that go on behind the scenes of those things that are really and truly impacting things. Big changes are easy to see and people always have a reaction to them, but it’s the little things that are the most impactful,” says Assistant Athletic Director and Head men’s soccer coach, Bryan Laut.
One of the small changes within the Athletic Deparment Laut recognizes are the increased impact coaches have on students and student-athletes alike. “I think the best thing we ever did [in my 23-year career at Goucher,] is create the Graduate Assistant (GA) position for teams,” Miller reflects. The GA’s act as assistant coaches for the team and provide an opportunity for the head coach to focus on bigger picture things, like recruiting, game strategy, and player management.
One of the important tasks of being a Division III athletic coach, specifically at Goucher, is acting as a role model. One of the ways Laut demonstrates his compassionate commitment to his players is through frequent meetings with every member of the team to assess how their particular semester is going on and off the field. “You have to create a positive environment, as a coach, in that team and in that game setting so people are feeling… a part of that collected enterprise… [feeling] good… on the same page… respected…  and challenged,” say Miller.

Additionally, the Athletic Department

“The foundation blocks, the principles of [who Goucher is] are not changing. The physical spaces may change. The mascot might change… but we still expect our students to be the best possible people, students, and teammates they can be,” says Director of Athletics Geoffrey Miller. Photo credit: Google Images
has been attempting to reach out to non-athletes on campus. This has involved partnerships by offering food at games, giving away free t-shirts, and even a television at a Men’s Basketball game in December. Student outreach has been challenging for the Department: “It takes time to shift culture and that’s what we’re trying to do… You have to give it some time. It’s a difficult thing to do. It’s challenging,” bemoans Miller.

He concedes that a part of his trouble is understanding how a younger generation functions. To help Miller and his administration, Goucher hired Brandon Harrison to be the Director of Athletic Communications in December. With the help of Nathaniel Cain, class of 2016, and his collaboration with current Goucher students, Harrison created the Goucher Sports Network. Harrison expects the Network to upload a series of highlights from games, promotion of upcoming games, and eventually he wants to do a weekly sports show. “We just want to show that the Athletics program is something that we’re proud of,” summarizes Harrison.
Miller is a perfectionist when it comes to the appearance and behavior of Goucher sports. He knows how easy people make judgements based on first-impressions and often student-athletes need their coaches to enforce good behavior. “I think the coaches have a tremendous responsibility… we [the entire Athletic Department] are held accountable for [the student-athletes’] reputation.”
For better or for worse, student-athletes have a precarious reputation on campus. Because the school provides a connection to the school and an established group of friends from teammates, certain student-athletes experience a separation from the larger Goucher community. “I think we [student-athletes] are our own worst enemy… we glom together as athletes… and are all wearing our gear and… might even be loud, might even be boisterous… that’s intimidating to some people… We act in ways that marginalizes people,” reflects Miller.
He is optimistic for the future reputation of student-athletes. “It requires some effort on the part of students and the Department to break down some of those [issues of student-athlete alienation] … we can hit that sweet spot of what [a better relationship between students and student-athletes] looks like.” In order to have a closer Goucher community – a true gopher whole – student-athletes and the Department must continue to reach out to other members on campus.
“The foundation blocks, the principles of [who Goucher is] are not changing. The physical spaces may change. The mascot might change… but we still expect our students to be the best possible people, students, and teammates they can be,” Miller adds.

Smoke-Free Initiative Builds Steam, Encounters Roadblocks

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In October of 2016, President Jose Bowen and “Senior Leadership Team” announced an initiative for Goucher to become 100% smokefree in order to uphold “a bold history of innovation.” The administration made this decision in late November as a response to three separate incidents when extremely asthmatic students had to be rushed to the hospital from second-hand smoke inhalation.

Andrew Wu, Associate Dean of Students, said that he has received emails from the parents of prospective students claiming that they couldn’t see the school “through the smoke.” President Jose Bowen, Andrew Wu, and Dean Bryan Coker also revealed that antismoking sentiment has been present at Goucher for the past ten years.

The Goucher administration has received results from many students and student-led groups over the years who distributed surveys, conducted senior research projects, and applied course work towards the possibility of Goucher going smoke-free. “We’re rife with data and we have been for a while,” said Wu. However, he also stated that “the quality of the data is questionable.” Instead of using this data as the basis for a smoke-free campus argument, he cited recommendations from the American College Health Association that schools treat smoking on campus as a public health issue.

To help the administration come up with a concrete plan, an unnamed committee has been tasked to “develop and recommend a plan and timeline for becoming a smoke-free campus.” For the first few months, the committee seems to have struggled to represent the student body. The committee, comprised of faculty, staff, and students, appeared to be comprised of eager anti-smokers, failing to include students who smoke.

“While we have heard from many non-smokers who are interested in this initiative, we would like to involve current smokers as well,” wrote Dean Coker. Wu claims that until 2005, students were allowed to smoke inside academic and residence buildings on campus. He also acknowledges

To help the administration come up with a concrete plan, an unnamed committee has been tasked to “develop and recommend a plan and timeline for becoming a smoke-free campus.” For the first few months, the committee seems to have struggled to represent the student body. The committee, comprised of faculty, staff, and students, appeared to be comprised of eager anti-smokers, failing to include students who smoke. “While we have heard from many non-smokers who are interested in this initiative, we would like to involve current smokers as well,” wrote Dean Coker. Wu claims that until 2005, students were allowed to smoke inside academic and residence buildings on campus. He also acknowledges

Wu claims that until 2005, students were allowed to smoke inside academic and residence buildings on campus. He also acknowledges that some students have even taken up smoking at Goucher. For those students trying to quit, some have found it difficult to be on campus, and if they do leave, often these students resume smoking when they return. Although the Health Center offers free smoking secession materials, including nicotine gum, Wu feels that it is not enough and wants to create “an environment that doesn’t encourage smoking.”

One of the biggest concerns about the Initiative is the number of students who would be affected by a Smoke-Free Goucher College. Wu said in an interview that Freidman-Wheeler and the committee had information on the exact number of smokers on campus, but, “I would venture to say that at most small liberal arts schools, like Goucher, the perception of smoking is much higher than the reality.”

Although according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), smoking in America has been declining, a 2015 study found that 13% of American adults aged from 18-24 are smokers. A Harvard School of Public Health study in 2016 found that as many as a third–33%–of college students are smokers. On the other hand, the American College Health Association found that 9% of college students have asthma, and a 2014 CDC study found that 24.6% of adults between 18-44 have select respiratory diseases. Goucher currently has a total enrollment of 2,148 students, according to the US News and World Report. Therefore, taking these statistics into consideration, within Goucher’s population there would be an estimated population of between 280 and 710 students who smoke and an estimated 200 to 537 students with respiratory diseases.

The interests of faculty and staff who smoke are another obstacle in transitioning Goucher to a smoke-free environment. Wu acknowledged a union presence on the committee, designed to preserve faculty and staff interests: “we have a union rep on the committee, so hopefully that’s going to help… [but once the campus goes completely smoke-free,] we’re going to have possibly even bigger issues… It’ll be very difficult to tell people, especially for people who don’t drive to work, … to say, [to staff who smoke] ‘you have to leave campus [if you want a cigarette.’]” Wu was not sure if the smoking secession materials are currently available for Bon Appetit workers. “I would say yes, but we haven’t specifically spoken about Bon Appetit workers,” Wu said.

The Goucher administration is hopeful about the success of the Smoke-Free Initiative and said that a lot of schools and universities are going smoke-free. Wu said,“Towson went smoke-free, which, to me, is kind of surprising because their campus is so big… but they did it successfully.”

Martin, a senior I.T. major at Towson University is also a smoker and he reported that he faces little difficulty in navigating a smoke-free campus. When he wants to smoke, he said, “I have to listen to music or distract myself” until he can find someplace to smoke. However, Martin also stated that he “is not addicted,” so the smoke-free policy might not have affected him as much as others. Martin also stated that “there are still places on campus where you can smoke.” Although their campus is big, especially in comparison to Goucher’s, Martin is still careful about where he smokes because “It’s not worth the risk.”

The committee, along with Goucher administration, are working on the timeline of the Initiative–when and how it will be implemented. Wu claimed that he and the committee are in favor of “phases.” He speculated that initially there will be seven or eight zones where people can smoke that are easily accessible from buildings, “so people don’t have to walk long distances… but we want to avoid high traffic areas.” He also reported that the committee is considering waiting a couple years before beginning the transition, in order to allow current smokers to graduate, and recruit new students with the condition that they know that Goucher has a plan to become completely smoke-free.

Administration and the committee also face the question of how this policy will be enforced. “One of the biggest things since I’ve been here, has been a lack of enforcement of smoking policies,” said Wu. “It’s been difficult to enforce [these policies].

Part of the reason for that, in my opinion… has been a lack of a system of accountability.” The current policy is that smokers must be 25 feet from buildings, but, as Wu said, “Public Safety can’t cover the perimeter of all buildings. That’s kind of silly.”

The committee has yet to come to a conclusion regarding consequences for violating non-smoking regulations. Wu proposes that infringements could be handled by Public Safety in a “parking-ticket type of way.” However, he also said, “I don’t realistically think the entire campus is going to stop smoking on campus when we go to smoke-free. It’s the same thing when we say you can’t have marijuana on campus, but people still do… it’s something we need to commit to in our policy… We can enforce sanctions that are reasonable… if you show repeated behavior that suggest that you’re just not willing to follow the rules of the community, that’s when it’s a big deal for me.” However, no concrete consequences for violating the policy of the new initiative have been accepted.

Wu believes that the Smoke-Free Initiative is beneficial to the health of Goucher students and needs to happen: “I am positive, in my personal opinion, that this would never happen if it wasn’t a top down thing because there’s too much disagreement [and there are] people who are passionate about smoking… [and] have very loud voices, probably louder than people who don’t want to be around smoke. Especially when you start this conversation like, ‘Hey, we’re going to take your cigarettes away’ those voices are loud.”

Goucher Wiffle Ball

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Photo courtesy of Google Images.

Michael Layer, Sports Editor

March 5th, 2017

Usually 60 plus degree weather in February should be cause for concern, but several have been enjoying their time in the sun. Warm afternoons at Goucher College mean classes outside, picnic blankets, and more recently, wiffle ball games on the Great Lawn. Typically found on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons, a group of about fourteen students create their own diamond out of the intersection of perpendicular walkways behind Welsh Hall.

“We want to keep it formally informal,” says senior David Sibony, one of the founding players of this new trend. Every couple of days, Sibony and junior Gianni Rodriguez take five rubber baseball plates, two balls, and a yellow wiffle ball bat that they own to set up their diamond in the corner of the Great Lawn. Two relatively even teams are created simply based on who shows up.

Goucher wiffle ball has gone under some recent changes. According to Sibony, he and a group of other students started playing wiffle ball on the residential quad in the spring of last year. Since the residential quad can become crowded, Sibony and the wiffle ball players moved to the lawn behind Pearlstone. Because of construction, players were forced to relocate to the Great Lawn, where they’ve been able to enjoy the games in front of crowds of about fifteen or twenty students. Students enjoy sitting on the hill between the T and the Athenaeum and often spectate relatively competitive wiffle ball games: “We like having the crowd; we hopefully try to play when there is a crowd… it’s fun to have people watch us play and [because of the crowd] people will play more, which we like,” laughs Sibony.

The group is organized through a Facebook group titled ‘Goucher Wiffle Ball,’ and administrated by Sibony. Though the page has plans to be public, it is currently set to private to ensure that nobody is turned away. Turnout is usually around fourteen students, so there is about seven on a team. This seems to be the most appropriate numbers as games can be competitive: “The game last week was very competitive… I don’t think anyone has decided not to play because the game has gotten too competitive; I don’t think it needs to be more competitive.”

Since many of the players are friends, the game flows naturally. Pitches are thrown not to get strikes, but for base hits, and there is also not an official umpire. In controversial plays, disputes are often settled through the good nature of both teams, “if there’s a really close call, we’ll switch off who gets the call, so if one team gets it this time, the other team will get it the next time.”

Sibony has plans for expansion and promotion of the game. He has plans for games on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons at 3:30pm, a bigger game on GIG in early April, and a tournament during senior week, leading up to graduation. “I want more people to join,” says Sibony.

Trump Teach In: A Lesson on White Liberalism

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Michael Layer, Sports Editor

March 5th, 2017

Last Monday, February 20th, the Peace Studies department held an interdisciplinary lecture conceptualizing how Donald Trump won the most recent election and a prediction of what the future will look like in his time in office. Speakers included Martin Shuster from Judaic Studies, Lana Oweidat from English, Danny Kimball from Communications, and Yousuf Al-Bulushi from the Peace Studies Department. The nearly two hour lecture was livestreamed by The Quidecim and posted on its Facebook page.

The lecture was attended by roughly 45 students and had many viewers online.  Though many professors gave different takes on the reasons why Trump won the election, all four professors spoke about one common theme: white liberal opposition.

Martin Shuster criticized the way white liberals try to make Donald Trump seem unrepresentative of American politics. He cites examples of Trump’s administration’s policies being contrary to American ideals of liberty, equality, and justice. Shuster finds that white liberals hold Trump up to be diametrically opposed to American values. They glamorize former President Obama, unaware that he deported nearly three milllion people, the most of any American president in history. Shuster mentioned when white liberals are quick to criticize Trump for his proposed marginalization of Muslim, Latina/o/x, and LGBTQA+ citizens, they are often silent and therefore complicit the current ostracism of African Americans, white supremacy, and unjust deportation of people in the United States. It appears that white liberals fight against injustice only when it applies to their agenda.

Lana Oweidat provided an interesting critique of white liberalism. She compared the conscious way Trump supporters seek to marginalize Muslim people mirrors the unintentional way white liberals marginalize Muslim people through messages of solidarity. She brought up political scientific studies that show that anti-Muslim sentiments peak, not after terrorist attacks, but during election cycles. To her, Islamophobia “can be used as a tool of public manipulation.” Oweidat first considers the way Trump supporters “consume” an unfounded fear of the Islamic faith and reveals that because of their anxiety, they are more open to promises of “totality, conformity, and prejudice.” This conscious Islamophobia contrasts with unwise white liberal attempts to promote unity, but ends up as cultural appropriation and stereotypical misrepresentation. Oweidat says that these attempts, though well intentioned, can be just as harmful as the prejudice white liberals who want to overturn by imposing their white, western, American values. Oweidat urges white liberals to be conscious that their culture is not the only one and not more important than any other.

Danny Kimball, a Communications professor, discussed the media’s coverage of the most recent election, specifically social media’s role of disseminating ‘fake news.’ He talks about how news media covers political campaigns as a ‘horserace,’ encouraging a commercial, sensationalist, ratings driven coverage of American politics. Political coverage in this way gives rise to information more focused on entertainment, rather than a commitment to the truth. Social media played an important role in the election, specifically fragmenting, polarizing, and radicalizing the population: “The algorithms of social media platforms are designed to show us more of what we already think… and that further acts to polarize a segregated society ever more apart from each other.” Kimball claims that social media platforms acted as echo chambers (silos or bubbles) where people only engaged with information that agreed with their bias. On Election Day, he felt that white liberals weren’t compelled to campaign or simply vote because they felt comfortable reading sources that predicted Clinton winning.

Peace Studies professor, Yousuf Al-Bulushi, spoke about the concept of Liberalism and how global politics became polarized. Al-Bulushi began his remarks by comparing Trump’s candidacy to other populist movements in American history. He also gave a brief history of how American liberalism focused on white, straight, Christian, property owning men. White centrists felt comfortable with their dominant place in American political culture until several civil rights movements and the economic crash of 2008 threatened white supremacy. A right-wing backlash was created in response to a perceived lack of social status among white centrists that were focused on the prominence of Barack Obama and #BlackLivesMatter. In the 2016 campaign, when Clinton appealed to white centrism, many white centrists had already become Trump supporters, who were promised a return to the white supremacy of the eighties.

The Trump: Teach In was focused on ways to analyze the manner in which Trump won the 2016 election. The lecture was thoughtful, insightful, and critical of both Donald Trump and white liberals whose shortsightedness failed to thwart him.

Goucher’s Response to Men’s Lax Photo

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Michael Layer, Sports Editor

February 25th, 2017

In the first issue of this semester, the professors in the Center for Geographies of Justice and Cultures published an open letter addressed to President Jose Bowen. The letter urged Goucher College to take further action to address a racially insensitive photograph taken by members of the Goucher men’s lacrosse team on November 8, 2016.

The team was celebrating the end of their fall pre-season with a scrimmage organized by the captains on the team. The scrimmage took place on one of the practice fields behind the Eline von Borries pool nearly a week after Halloween. The team dressed up in costumes, which included various fuzzy animals, an assortment of characters from video games, and a policeman. The team seemed to enjoy their costumes, most of which seemed to be hooded onesie pajamas on top of their lacrosse gear, and posted their collection of pictures on Facebook and Instagram.

One student dressed up in a Donald Trump shirt, khaki shorts, American Flag suspenders, and a Make America Great Again hat. He posed for a picture with two other white students in style ponchos and sombreros, suggesting to be Mexicans, and posted the photo on Instagram. The post was saved as a screenshot and shared on Facebook by a student who identified the photo as an example of cultural appropriation. Other students and alumni on Facebook shared the post and the photo quickly became public knowledge within the Goucher community.

In the following hours, Goucher College sent out an email and Facebook post titled, “An Important Message to our Community,” which was signed by President Jose Bowen and Dean Bryan Coker. At the time, certain members of the Goucher community were assuaged by the Goucher administration’s response. The open letter from the Center for Geographies of Justice and Cultures represents a community patience that has been tested one too many times.

In the article, the faculty published four recommendations for constructive action in response to the photo, which included individual suspension, a public update from Goucher’s Administration, and that “the entire Goucher men’s lacrosse team participate in cultural literacy training.” Before the article was published, President Jose Bowen and Andrew Wu addressed these concerns with The Quindecim in a personal email and a follow up interview.

On February 14, 2017, President Bowen revealed that the team took “prompt internal action with the responsible team members, as well as the overall team membership.” Head Coach Bryan Kelly reached out to Luz Burgos-Lopez, the assistant Dean of Students for Race, Equity, and Identity. According to Burgos-Lopez, “Coach Kelly was interested in having conversations with his team to address what happened, and was seeking guidance on the best approach to these discussions.”

Both Coach Kelly and Burgos-Lopez made the decision that the team should hold a workshop series conducted by Lucia Perfetti Clark, Goucher’s Title XI Coordinator, and Luz Burgos-Lopez. These classes began in small groups of three or four students and then expanded to lecture style courses intended for the entire team.  Burgos-Lopez claims that “the workshops are not a punishment, nor an institutional response to what happened. They are the result of a partnership with Coach Kelly to try to build some greater capacity within the team.” According to President Bowen, “The coach has been a model of responsiveness and the players have taken this very seriously.”

President Bowen, as well as Luz Burgos-Lopez feel that these courses, not expulsion or suspension, are the best way to address the issue. Bowen remarked, “While suspension from the team or public shaming might seem to offer a quick and strong response, such a sanction seriously diminishes opportunities for student learning and growth.” For Bowen, making mistakes is an integral part of learning, and Goucher students would not feel safe enough to make mistakes if others are being suspended or expelled. Because he believes that these Goucher students are capable of learning from their mistakes, he feels that the educational workshops are the right course of action by saying, “Exile is typically reserved for offenses for which there is no chance of reconciliation.”

Luz Burgos-Lopez knows that systems of accountability haven’t been in place at Goucher for very long and, in her opinion, “people have the right to be upset and angry.” However, she is critical of a Goucher community that seeks to criticize the men’s lacrosse team or the Goucher administration. Burgos-Lopez claims that students were responsible for spreading misconceptions and that “people were having conversations that were toxic and out of fear.”

President Bowen commented on this issue, saying, “We probably should have provided some follow-up communication regarding these efforts before now, but I also think that what the public needs to know has to be weighed against the potential for real educational gains.” Burgos-Lopez agreed and is critical of The Quindecim even publishing this article: “Historically, students haven’t been able to handle sensitive information… who are the people you’re trying to hold accountable?”

Though there is significant student backlash on the men’s lacrosse team and the Goucher administration, Burgos-Lopez believes that the Goucher “doesn’t have the capacity to talk about race across the board, to really engage the community.” She claims that when certain students talk about issues of race on campus, they fail to consider other marginalized groups, and that certain issues become coded messages for avoiding social equity. “It’s elitist to claim that one has the capacity to know how to address this situation,” she says.

Racism both globally and within our campus won’t be resolved quickly. Burgos-Lopez stands behind the educational measures prescribed to the team: “No one changes overnight; the classes are supposed to bring about an awareness, but this is not a punishment.” Neither BERT, Goucher’s Bias Education and Response Team, nor CREI has any power of adjudication and cannot sanction any punishment on individuals or a team. BERT plans on emailing an official report of the incident outlining the school’s response before Spring Break.

President Bowen spoke in January for Goucher’s Opening Convocation and said, “we need to have higher standards for dialogue and disagreement, but we also need to make sure we are having a real dialogue – and that means some tolerance for failure… There are very few places in the U.S. right now where such a diverse collection of people are living together and truly trying to get along. We [at Goucher] are a long way from perfect… if we are to make progress, we must both have higher standards for dialogue and all be brave and willing to support each other in the effort.”

Political Neutrality or Commercial Resistance? The Clear, Mixed Messages of the Super Bowl

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Photo Courtesy of Style Girlfriend, on Google Images.

Michael Layer, Sports Editor

February 15th, 2017

In a nation of hyper-partisan division, one of the largest forms of escape was in Sunday’s Super Bowl. Many people enjoy sports because of their escapist nature and, according to Nielsen, the Super Bowl is the most watched event in America. Though politics and sports have clashed in the past, according to New York Times article “No Trump or Goodell at Super Bowl, at Least According to N.F.L. Transcripts,” they were not intended to clash this year.

Since the controversial presidential election, private businesses have seen their stock rise or fall from a Trump endorsement. Because of the manner of Donald Trump’s election, his opponents have complied lists of companies to boycott, while his supporters laud the companies’ alleged decisions to commit to American jobs. After the election, centrists and conservatives condemn the political protests from democrats and proclaim a message of national unity behind President Trump and varying degrees of political tolerance.

The Super Bowl is seen as a hallmark of American Culture. The sporting event brings in millions of viewers annually, attracting Americans both for the football and the commercials. Businesses pay millions of dollars for their 30 second opportunity to be seen by Americans nationwide. The commercials face their own sort of competition and are often compared for their creativity, irreverence, and comedy. Outside of sports, comedy shows have recently criticized Donald Trump through satire, committing to a left leaning, niche audience and at the same time attracted national attention, an increase in ratings, and a tweet from the president.

At a time where it can become profitable to overtly oppose the current president, how did America’s marketing geniuses do? It seems with a strong message of ambiguous tolerance with overtones of national pride that appeals to both sides of a partisan divide.

To certain Trump supporters who feel that they are ‘the silent majority,’ who feel they have been ignored by President Obama, tolerance means to settle Democratic protests, quiet celebrity dissent, and settle a perceived news media bias. Tolerance, it seems, has nearly the opposite implications for Trump’s critics. This message of equality implies the importance of national and international diversity, shaming travel bans, proposed walls, and understood religious discrimination.

National pride was another emphasized, yet unclear message from the Super Bowl. The same nationalistic rituals of patriotic hymns, references to constitutional rights, and images of flags resonated with a proud, patriotic right. On the left, these same themes referenced integral, American rights of freedom of religion, a unified nation of immigrants, or equal representation under the law.

Out of the many messages from the Super Bowl, one best combined these two ambiguous, pandering appeals to identity politics: the Lady Gaga half time performance. She began the performance with “This Land is Your Land,” which utilized an impressive red and blue light show that became an American flag, and emphasized that America was “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Being one of the leading voices for the gay, lesbian, and queer community, she sang her hits like such as “Born this Way” in front of Vice President Mike Pence, who has been openly critical of gay, lesbian, and queer rights. In the bottom right of the performance broadcast was the red, white, and blue Pepsi logo. After the remarkable performance from the pop artist, who employed a diverse team of dancers, the red and blue lights reappeared, and formed the Pepsi logo in the sky.

The right was emboldened behind their new president and renewed national pride while the left was inspired by messages of promised liberties and equality that Donald Trump cannot revoke. The right was promised that Lady Gaga would not make her performance a political message, while the left could infer the meaning behind her songs. It seems that the heavily publicized event was deliberately ambiguous, both satisfying and disappointing expectations from both sides.

It seems that several companies played into a similar marketing strategy. Coca-Cola and Budweiser seemingly played into this with their uniquely courageous yet marketable commercials. There was one in particular which seemed to almost comment on this pandering appeal to identity politics. Kia produced a commercial with Mellissa McCarthy, nearly 24 hours after her satirically scathing SNL impersonation of White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer.

In the ad, she goes around the world protesting aspects of the continued degradation of the natural environment. She quickly realizes the dangers of jumping in the ocean to save the whales, climbing trees to prevent deforestation, or standing on melting polar ice caps, and lets out an outrageously dramatic yelp, as Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” plays. The right can enjoy the downfall of a liberal stereotype, while the left sees the importance of driving a car that is environmentally conscious.

It appears that Kia’s advertisement capitalized on McCarthy’s unfruitful protest. It seems that while most voting Americans picked sides, every participant of the Super Bowl marketed themselves to both sides of the political spectrum by refusing to compromise.

Goucher Sporting Voices: Are the Patriots Fun to Hate?

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Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.
The Patriots defeated the Falcons 34-28 after overtime. Timothy A. Clary, Getty Images

Michael Layer, Sports Editor

February 15th, 2017

People watching at Goucher is always amusing on game day. One of my favorite things about Goucher is seeing the various jerseys students wear to class, mentally catalogue who supports which team, and see them proudly strut their colors down the Van Meter highway. During the Super Bowl last Sunday, students flaunted their colors in support of their team, watched the game on computers in the Athenaeum, and pretended they were doing work at the same time.

Reflecting on the students’ jersey selections, I can’t tell you how many Patriots hats, hoodies, and jerseys I’ve seen over the course of my Goucher scholastic career. From a neutral’s perspective, it’s disappointing the Falcons didn’t have the same following here as the Patriots. Though several students were outspoken about their support for the Atlanta based team, it was not because the Falcons are their favorite, but simply because they hate the Patriots so much.

One of those students who supported the Falcons to spite the Patriots is junior Business Management major, Scott Mt. Pleasant. A self-proclaimed Green Bay Packer’s fan, the New York native rooted against the Patriots on Sunday. Saying before the game, “They always seem to be in the Super Bowl, first of all, which is annoying, of course… and they get caught with all these scandals… it’s annoying when they seem to get away with it and still win… I just hate that franchise.”

Much of Mt. Pleasant’s hatred went towards head coach Bill Belichick, who after Sunday became the one of the most successful coaches in NFL history, winning the Super Bowl five times. “I just think he’s pompous. His responses to reporters are very cocky… sometimes he doesn’t seem to give reporters enough respect.” Mt. Pleasant continued to criticize the Patriots claiming, that their support is not genuine, “Obviously there’s a lot of people who like teams that are successful, so bandwagon fans will hop on.”

Especially after Sunday, the Patriots’ success is undeniable. Devout Patriots fan and Senior Communications major, David Sibony believes that the Patriots deserve the support because of their success, “I think it’s easy to be a Patriots fan because they’re good. If you don’t look at all these issues of cheating or not cheating… you can see there really has been success.” Sibony was proven right after his team won in overtime on Sunday. The team is considered to be one of the best ever with nine Super Bowl appearances and five championship titles.

Sibony claims that Patriots fans deserve respect for loving their team, not because it is easy to like them, but because it’s been difficult. He believes that it would be easy to love a team if there was never any downs. For him, the test of a true fan is supporting their team despite their faults. However, in regards to their previous scandals like the two in 2015, one in 2007, and the one in 1982, Sibony said, “I don’t want to get into that.” It seems however that because there have been so many highs for the Patriots, the lows become impossible to ignore. Mt. Pleasant had no problem noticing their failures: “I wouldn’t want to say that their rings should be taken away, but at some point, they can’t keep doing this and have no consequences.”

Bandwagon fans or not, cheating or not, Super Bowl wins or not, the passion for Patriots football at Goucher is undeniable. Though Sibony feels that there are more Ravens fans than Patriots fans at Goucher, he said with a smile, “[Patriots fans at Goucher] stand out because we are so spirited. You’re going to see more [Patriots] jerseys than Ravens jerseys on a Sunday night in the Ath. because they’re so spirited.” Mt. Pleasant even agrees, “They’ve very much outspoken about how much they support the Patriots… I guess when you win that much you get to flaunt it.”

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