Oct. 17, in the midst of the College of William and Mary’s Homecoming festivities this year, our athletics department announced plans for Tribe Plaza, a new gathering spot for fans, students and alumni alike. Several days later, a large bronze statue of the Griffin was unveiled, located centrally in front of Zable Stadium facing Richmond Road. According to a press release from William and Mary News, the statue was not commissioned specifically for the College, but for another institution in 2012; furthermore, it was purchased using private funds raised through the Tribe Club.
Normally, the erection of such a statue would spur debate and complaints about how the school is spending its money or what campus improvement projects our alumni are choosing to donate to, but this statue has been the cause of an entirely different sort of controversy. The Griffin statue has been the center of widespread student confusion due to the fact that its testicles are clearly and prominently displayed. Located at the statue’s rear facing the football stadium, the size and detail of the Griffin’s pelvic region is shocking.
Quite frankly, the gratuitous nature of the Griffin’s testicles is unbecoming for our university. There has been extensive public outrage, especially among students, about the prominence of the Griffin’s private regions. Multitudes of memes criticizing the new statue flooded our newsfeeds and for a few days, it seemed like the College community would never move past its new infamous monument. The College is already going through its usual disagreements about Homecoming, alumni events and recent protests by student groups. Adding an inappropriate and explicit statue to the mix only adds confusion and disarray, and I fail to see how anyone can enjoy the statue after seeing it from such an unflattering angle.
We are greatly relieved that the statue was purchased using private funds, and we would sincerely question the College’s aesthetic tastes if it thought this statue was appropriate to justify spending money on. But aside from the financial support that was required to bring the Griffin to campus, the decision to place this particularly offensive statue in front of Zable as a demonstration of our athletic prowess was an imperfect one. Upon seeing the Griffin statue, visiting athletes will not tremble with fear at the strength of the Tribe. Instead, it is far more likely that they will send a few Snapchats to their friends and enjoy a solid five minutes of unbridled laughter.
It seems to us that had just a few students been consulted in the decision making, this statue would not have been purchased or placed in such a prominent position on campus. While the idea behind Tribe Plaza is not necessarily a bad one, the fact of the matter is that the only thing most students will be talking about is the anatomical correctness of this particular statue. Perhaps the administration should merely ignore the immaturity of the College’s young student population, but ultimately, what was meant to be a proud moment for the Tribe was instead an uncomfortable and laughably awkward one.
Email Anna Boustany, Ethan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org,