By Clinton Dick
What goes on in other people’s minds? We ask ourselves that every time we see someone do something outside of what we consider “right.” There has been at least one time in our lives when somebody, maybe a friend, does something crazy, such as back-flip off of the roof of a house. We know it is something we would never do and you don’t exactly think of that person as an intelligent being for pulling a stunt. The image of that person changes in your mind, and it usually isn’t for the better.
In college, things like this happen every day. We are all old enough to fend for ourselves, away from the protection of our parents, but it is a different world amongst our peers. Things happen, people look at you and judge from the clothes you wear, the way you walk, and especially the decisions you make.
This past week, Bethany College in Lindsborg made the headlines on both local and national levels in a way in which institutions do not normally plan. The men’s golf team, which is 15 members strong, took their team pictures just like any other athletic program would; only they didn’t have any clothes on. With their driving clubs covering their privates, the members took their picture side by side in the nude and later posted it on Facebook. When Jon Daniels, Bethany College athletic director and head men’s golf coach, got word, things got ugly. The team, which has won 11 of the past 15 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships, now faces suspension from their first three tournaments of the season.
Now the question pops up again. What was going through their minds when they decided to partake in this picture-taking scandal? According to members of the team, it was just something fun to do. It is hard to believe that out of 15 college men, not one voiced out that there may be repercussions to what they were doing.
The men didn’t get in trouble for what you might think. In fact, the picture did not violate any athletic regulations set forth by the KCAC. The problem occurred when the picture appeared on the internet with Bethany College listed in the caption. The college cited the team for improper use of their name.
So, does this mean that any organization can just go strip to their skivvies and snap a photo, and as long as they don’t use the college’s name, get away with it? How comfortable are we going to be putting ourselves in that kind of image?
That is what this is about, the image. Not the physical image, but the mental one now painted in everyone’s minds. They didn’t see how the image of their bare bodies was going reflect the image of the program and the institution. Now, not only is the team fighting to stay out of a suspension, but they have dug themselves a hole in the way that others see them. They are no longer the Bethany Men’s Golf Team, but that group of guys who took that naked picture and posted it all over the internet.
We don’t always make the best decisions and we are never going to be 100 percent right in everything we do all the time. It is a part of being human, especially for college students. We want to have fun, we don’t want to grow up or grow old, we want the world to stop spinning so fast, but most of all we want our image to not be tainted.
Tracy Frederick, communication professor here at Southwestern, made a statement during a session at Builder Camp this year. She said it takes 30 seconds to judge someone. Before we even know who someone is, we have a mental picture painted in our heads. It is just the way our brains work.
It took much less than 30 seconds for our brains to make a judgment when we saw the golf picture. The players on the golf team are most likely a great group of young men, but we don’t see that from the picture.
The next time we decide to do something out of the ordinary, we need to step back and think about how this is going to make us look, our organization look, and our school look. Image is important, so hopefully we won’t have to see ours all over the internet in the future.
Clinton Dick is a junior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.