A Letter to the Macalester Community from 13th Street

A Letter to the Macalester Community from 13th Street

13th Street, Contributing Writer

We would like to begin by thanking the members of our community who have expressed their support for our action and the message we conveyed at the football game two Saturdays ago, their interest in helping bring about the change that we are advocating for and their initiative participating in the process that lies ahead. Additionally, we would like to thank and recognize Will DeBruin ’20 for bringing these issues to light and for taking steps to invoke change.

Over the past several years, multiple sports teams on campus have had at least one of their members formally reported for sexual misconduct — in addition to the many incidents that remain unreported. We know that all athletic teams are required to attend Green Dot training to discuss consent and sexual assault prevention, but these trainings mean nothing if the underlying culture of these teams fails to uphold the ideals discussed in these spaces.

It is imperative that the athletic department understands that the efforts made to address sexual misconduct, homophobia and transphobia thus far are not enough. Every time these kinds of incidents occur without accountability, or without explicit communication within the teams, it sets a precedent for incoming students and speaks to the character of Macalester and Macalester Athletics.

By discussing the issues that prompted our speech and demanding respect and accountability, we establish that homophobia, transphobia, sexual assault and predatory behavior are not tolerated. However, if we aim to bring about a positive cultural and social change, we all must play a role in the process that lies ahead. Therefore, 13th Street will be holding each other accountable for our actions and invite others to do the same. As leaders in Macalester Athletics and within our community, our coaches and athletic director must also recognize their responsibility in fostering a culture that keeps our institution safe and welcoming.

Furthermore, we as a community must initiate dialogues and build bridges that foster environments in which we can all come together to create solutions. We recognize the power of including the voices of the people directly affected by discrimination and sexual misconduct to generate change that effectively tackles these problems. We are working with several groups on campus to generate spaces in which we can all come together to address, learn from each other, communicate better and make this a safer and more respectful community for all. We hope you can all join us in these spaces in the future.

Over the past week there have been a lot of positive moments and good intentions for making change from the community, authority figures, female student athletes and some football players. Along with that, however, there have been conversations about the hurt, on both sides, and we want to take a moment to acknowledge that.

In the days that followed our address to the community, we realized that we need to clarify two things. First, we would like to acknowledge that by referring to the football team as a whole, we have generalized and mischaracterized many team members — those who have not contributed to upholding this underlying culture, those who may in fact support our message and those who try their best to contribute in a positive way in addressing these issues. We do not believe that everyone in athletics actively contributes to these problems. However, we do believe that everyone in athletics can actively contribute to solving them.

Additionally, we would like to reiterate that the issues we are advocating against — homophobia, transphobia, predatory culture and sexual assault — are not exclusive to the football team, but rather are present and alive in athletic teams and on Macalester’s campus in general. We would like to see these conversations focus not on the faults of one specific team, but on the possibility for growth and improvement that exists within all teams.

As a result, members of 13th Street and Will DeBruin met with the athletic director, the dean of the department of multicultural life and a Macalester coach to discuss the impact of our speech and next steps. We plan to meet again in the coming weeks to discuss the possibility of creating a forum for students and student athletes to discuss these issues in an honest and productive manner with the goal of creating stronger action plans. We also discussed re-evaluating how we treat and manage sexual assault prevention trainings for athletics and the entire student body. We are also brainstorming ways to implement diversity training in Macalester spaces. These trainings would serve to provide education based on the unique needs of minority groups in order to establish respect and prioritize safety for us all.

Lastly, we would like to leave you all with one thing: recognize that every individual has power. If you ever feel powerless, or feel that you cannot cause change, remember that you can always change yourself — and when you change yourself you inspire others to do the same. If every single one of us changes, we can change our community. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.