Bullying — that term we associate with middle school and high school — we have all witnessed it, and perhaps a majority of us have done it. Once in college, though, one would think most students would have outgrown it. Sure, there is the traditional first-year hazing. Yes, this is bullying, but it is also a practice that first-years expect and are many times willing to endure. At the University though, I have begun to witness a different kind of bullying.
I came to this school expecting to find a plethora of kids like myself, driven when it comes to academics and also able to relax and have a little fun when the time comes. And for the most part, this is what I have found. I have always associated this school with honor and respect and again, for the most part, this is what I see. But for a certain group of students these terms seem to have been thrown out the window. Yes, I am talking about the now well-known “not gay” chants during the “Good Ol’ Song.” It may seem like a petty matter to be writing an entire column on, but it is petty matters like these that are liable to mushroom into larger problems. No one wants that to happen.
Hearing the chanting during football games, I ask myself how in the world students acting that juvenile demonstrated the requirements necessary to get into the University in the first place. Bullies are usually exposed as being cowards, and that is exactly what these people are. Huddled in the midst of throngs of other fans, screaming out with no regard for the implications of what they are saying or who they are hurting. The simple truth is, the chanting and its juvenile, caustic nature, is doing damage to the very University that these students claim to cherish. Think of what those outside the University community think when they hear something like this on television. Might they begin to question the values being taught at our school?
The honor code is something we take very seriously at the University. But the honor code transcends the words with which it is composed. It implies a morality, a certain conscientious mindset that all University students should have. Most that I have met do have this mindset and respect and adhere to the honor code. But there is no honor in bullying, period. And the group of students and alumni who are making a mockery of both the honor code and the University are bullies. I have a message to each and every one of those chanting. If you have something to say, do not hide among your friends, among a crowd, to say it. I will respect your opinion if you share it with me as such. I may not agree with you, but I will certainly think of you differently than I do now.
I am a straight guy. You might be wondering why I of all people would even care to discuss a topic such as this. Well, this issue goes beyond straight and gay. As you are now well aware, it deals with honor and respect, two values that this university was founded on and two values that keep students coming here. If we forget where we have come from, the values that we were founded upon, than what is there to keep moving us forward?
A quick word on the alumni: Grow up! You are supposed to be the role models for the next generation of University graduates. Do not participate in petty spectacles such as the “not gay” chant. For students to do it is one thing, but for adults to engage in such a nonsensical act is another.
The “not gay” chant has become a mainstay at sporting events at UVa. It has tainted a tradition that students, staff, and alumni, including myself, hold dear to their hearts. Bullies have no place at University. This cowardly, juvenile act contradicts the values of honor and morality on which this University was built. Grow up, end the chant, and act your age.
Andrew Wells is a viewpoint writer