Letter to the Editor: March 6, 2015

Dear upperclassmen of the St. Olaf baseball team,

What do you think the St. Olaf Community thinks about you?

This past Saturday, I had to sit through dinner in the Caf listening to you severely mistreat members of your team, all in the name of “initiation.” As I tried to enjoy a meal with friends, the prized upperclassmen of your team decked out in their ill-fitting suits and tacky sunglasses yelled orders to the new recruits from the upper level. You degraded these incoming members by requiring them to wear tank tops and cutoffs through the caf and by forcing them to complete whatever tasks were yelled to them.

I bet you think you are so cool to have all of this power and control over other students. I bet you think you are so funny and that the whole Caf was laughing along with you as you dehumanized the newest members of your team. Man, are you wrong.

What we see when we witness such blatant disregard for another individual’s personhood is weakness. What we see is insecurity in your own identity manifested in your maltreatment of others. What we see is ineptitude and inability to empathize with others.

What we feel is ashamed. Ashamed to call you our classmates. Ashamed that such behavior is publicly acceptable on our campus. Ashamed that such a large faction of the St. Olaf community has been unable to grasp some of the most important foundations of this institution, critical thinking and moral sensitivity.

Did you even think about the display of power and privilege you were taking part in? Did you even think about how new members of your community who are struggling to find their place at this school felt when you yelled at them like servants?

And if you were comfortable behaving in this way in front of an entire cafeteria full of people, what does that say about our community?

Hazing is wrong. It is cowardly. It is degrading. It undermines the mission of our college and the work of all those trying to make this a more inclusive institution.

We expect better.

With disappointment,

Sarah Kretschmann ’15