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Goucher Wiffle Ball

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.

A Letter From President Bowen


A few weeks ago our Sports editor, Michael Layer, reached out to several people on Goucher’s campus regarding the controversial photo of some Goucher lacrosse players. (You can read Layer’s article on the incident here).

Goucher’s president was among the few that got back to Layer. With President José Bowen’s permission, we wanted to publish the letter he wrote to The Quindecim‘s editors.

Dear Editors,

Thank you for your thoughtful letter regarding the College’s response to the men’s lacrosse incident last fall. I share your serious concern about the incident, especially in light of the current national climate. Here is what I can share.

As you know, Bryan Coker and I issued a joint statement immediately following the picture being posted, expressing our serious concern, and condemning the behavior. The men’s lacrosse team took prompt internal action with the responsible team members as well as the overall team membership. The matter was also referred to the Bias Education Response Team (BERT), which reviewed the matter and recommended educational measures. Since that time, our Title IX Coordinator has conducted educational sessions with the team as has the Assistant Dean of Students. The coach has been a model of responsiveness and the players have taken this very seriously.

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. We are an educational institution.  We invite students on to our campus to learn from their mistakes. Our approach to this incident has been – and will continue to be – learning-oriented. 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.

I have also attached my remarks from our Opening Convocation in January as they may also be informative of my position.  We are in a highly polarized moment in American history. When there is not much listening, there is not much learning and little chance for new communal understanding to emerge across thickly drawn lines of opinion. In my remarks in January, I asked student to expand their empathy this semester. I still think that is key. We need to have higher standards for dialogue and disagreement, but we also need to make sure we are having real dialogue–and that means some tolerance for failure. Exile is typically reserved for offences for which there is no chance of reconciliation. If we as a College cannot find some tolerance for failure in each other, then we will not be preparing you to be potential listeners, builders, creators, and healers in the wider world where you will soon find yourselves. There are very few places in the U.S. right now where such a diverse collection of people are living together and trying truly to get along. We are a long way from perfect. I am proud of our ambitious goals and high ideals, and I also know that brings more pain, misunderstanding and hurt along the way. We have chosen to confront the reality of our society. This is not the safe path and 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.

BERT will soon be releasing an overview of cases they have considered over the past year, which will show all that is being done to address bias-related behaviors in our community. We are thankful to now have BERT, and hope to expand the opportunities for effective and educationally-based options for responses to bias incidents.

I am committed to learning, growth, and development as the ultimate outcome for this incident.


José Antonio Bowen

Goucher’s Response to Men’s Lax Photo


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

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?

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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