Take a step across the divide

The reporters are gone, no longer looking for dregs of uncorroborated opinion to flaunt as fact. The incident in Bryan Hall no longer sweeps across the front page of The News and Record, but instead is content to dwell in the “Region” section. The news appears to have faded from the eyes of the nation, and it’s only a matter of time before Guilford is swept aside in favor of some new hot scandal.But that doesn’t mean it has faded from our minds. The issues that this “incident,” such a tidy and sterile word, has dredged up remain.

I speak of the self-inflicted divide in the student body. We can all see it. The averted gazes as you pass by someone of the opposite side, the five seats that separate your friends from the athletes down the table, that and more. We can all agree that stereotypes are inherently inaccurate, so why do we insist on using them, at Guilford of all places?

The divide started when collegiate athletics were brought to Guilford. The history behind it is of little concern now, as I wish to focus on how best to overcome this divide.

Guilford prides itself on being an institution that values equality and fairness, but if there are factions of the student body who refuse to hear each other, that goal will forever remain unattained. How can we claim tolerance if we refuse to listen to one another? It’s hypocrisy at the most fundamental level. It’s up to both sides to take steps out of their comfort zones and initiate conversations with one another.

I’ll start with the athletes. Playing a sport is a huge commitment. A good quarter of the day, if not more, is often taken up by practice, and that leaves little time for other commitments. If our sports are all we do, we cut ourselves off from the rest of campus. If we want to change the “meathead” stereotype, we need to get involved on campus and show that we care about Guilford, just like everyone else. Respect those whose passions lead them in other directions and support them in their endeavors.

Now, for the other side, the non-athletes. Athletes would love to see you in the stands at our games. Nothing sucks worse than playing in the home stadium with about 20 people in the stands, especially when those 20 are parents and significant others. Most people don’t realize how much a cheering crowd can bolster a team’s confidence. We see it when it happens and rest assured we don’t forget it. Bring your friends to a game, even if you don’t stick around for the whole game; the effect that cheering fans have can turn the tide of a game. When was the last time you got to scream and holler without getting a noise violation?

Students, be they athletes or not, need to take initiative and reach out to one another. We are all students at Guilford College and are driven by the same things deep down. Recognizing that is a fundamental step towards accepting one another.

That’s what Guilford College is about.