Letter to the Editor
Issue   |   Wed, 02/20/2013 - 01:30

I am the father of a senior student-athlete (in fact, a football player) at Amherst, and I have just read the opinion piece from Professor Thomas Dumm. I was deeply offended by almost every point raised in his piece and am extremely concerned about the impact that his series of false stereotypes and grossly irresponsible innuendo may have on my son and so many others like him. I am also concerned that such ill-informed statements might taint the perception of a school that we have come to love and respect.

In order to put Professor Dumm's inferences in some perspective, allow me to posit an equally absurd and potentially damaging comparison. There have been many high-profile stories about teachers and professors around this country engaging in inappropriate relationships with students whom they teach. Would I suggest that there might be a problem with Professor Dumm or his wonderful profession, simply because a number of teachers have behaved so reprehensibly, by taking advantage of their power and influence over their victims? Of course not, since the actions of a very few cannot create such a potentially damaging stereotype regarding such a noble profession. However, Professor Dumm has no problem casting such a wide and clearly damning net over students like my son, just because they choose to play a sport they love.

It is also clear to me that this professor has formed his stereotype based on an absolute failure to investigate the true character of those he assails. In my profession, the law, if I were to engage in such ill-informed and biased hypotheses, I would expect to be censured or at least have my competence and intellectual credibility questioned. It appears that at Amherst, this professor feels that he has a license to attack these students, thereby painting them with scarlet letters — “watch out for those who play team sports at Amherst, as they are all ‘misogynists’, and are likely to sexually assault fellow students.” Incredible.

I ask Professor Dumm to put himself in the shoes of those he attacks in his note. Can you imagine being a student-athlete at Amherst and waking up to read this? I would also ask members of the administration at Amherst to put themselves in the position of parents of these students, who have spent their hard-earned money on a wonderful education, but who now have to read such an attack on so many of their children’s teammates and friends, who they have come to so admire and respect. All this is so very unfair and does a tremendous disservice to these students, their parents and the school itself.

The real tragedy here is that, as we leave Amherst, one of the last, and potentially lasting, impressions we will have of the place is how our son has, by association, been branded as a likely "misogynist" by someone with a warped and apparently deep-seated disdain for student-athletes. How very sad for him — and for Amherst.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 14:28

Can you imagine being a victim of rape by a student-athlete at Amherst and waking up to read this?

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 17:26

Yes. It might be hard to read. Doesn't mean it's wrong or doesn't need to be said.

Parent of survivor (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 18:32

Can you imagine receiving a phone call from your son or daughter and hearing about his/her rape by an Amherst student? And then he/she asks the Dean of Students what options are available to only be told to take time off-the rest of the year! Please read these comments told to Amherst rape survivors by Amherst administrators, teammates, roommates, and friends:
How priviledged that your son's worst day is waking up to read Prof Dumm's report! And the only scar he suffers from his days at Amherst College is the possibility that Prof Dumm's statements might tarnish the school's reputation. Please!

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 19:21

"Can you imagine being a victim of rape by a student-athlete at Amherst and waking up to read this?"
What a silly thing to say. No one can imagine that, and no one should have to. But that's irrelevant, and hasn't the slightest thing to do with this article. Re-read what he has said, and try to read it without a bias against student-athletes.

Parent of an Am... (not verified) says:
Thu, 02/21/2013 - 11:37

Mr. Reynolds, Thanks you for taking the time to write this letter to the editor stating what many of your fellow Amherst parents of student-athletes are thinking. I do hope that the administration and faculty understand that your letter speaks for many! I also hope that the faculty and administration will reach out to Amherst student athletes to confirm to them that Prof. Dumm's opinion is not the opinion of the administration or the faculty as a whole.

Anon (not verified) says:
Sat, 02/23/2013 - 22:11

Mr. Reynolds, can you please quote one line from Professor Dumm's article that warrants the description "attack"? Dumm merely asked why the SMOC committee didn't study a link that many, many other researchers have studied -- with inconclusive results, not null results -- and that is believed by many to exist on the Amherst College campus. In what alternate universe does a question of that sort constitute an "attack"? Surely you are alive to the possibility that such a study could have once and for all disproven the sense that many have on this campus that there is a link between athletic culture and sexual misconduct here. If the link between athletic culture and rape culture truly does not exist on this campus, shouldn't you in fact welcome or even demand the sort of study that Dumm criticized the committee for not conducting? And before you respond by saying that the committee did do that study, please ask yourself why the committee has not released any of the data -- even in the aggregate -- on what little study they did seem to do on this matter. Something is not right here. In the meantime, please reread Dumm's article. Your son has not been attacked; he hasn't even been criticized. "Parent of a survivor" above is right. Let's stay focused on the real victims here.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Mon, 02/25/2013 - 02:49

^Let's relax, Professor Dumm

anon (not verified) says:
Mon, 02/25/2013 - 21:21

I can't tell if the stuff about professors sleeping with students is a happy accident or a thinly-veiled reference to the fact that Professor Dumm has a long-standing reputation for carrying on affairs with students, but either way it's pretty funny.