It has been one hell of a week for McGill football, that’s for sure. Redmen running back Luis-Andres Guimont-Mota’s arrest for domestic assault has prompted a flurry of dramatic events, starting with his suspension from the team and the Provost’s announcement that McGill should never have admitted Guimont-Mota. These developments, in turn, have led to the resignation of Redmen coach Clint Uttley. Looming over all aspects of this story, of course, is the case from 2013 in which three Redmen players were accused of sexually assaulting a former Concordia student. McGill was chastised, in this paper and elsewhere, for its non-action in this case, and seems to be trying to put on a strong face this time around and show that it takes such incidents seriously. Guimont-Mota’s suspension was the correct action to take.
However, on the other hand, the statement that Guimont-Mota should never have been admitted to the university because of a previous assault conviction is deeply troubling. Clint Uttley found it troubling too, and listed it as one of the main reasons he tendered his resignation. Of course, this might not be the whole story. Uttley was the one who originally recruited Guimont-Mota, and as such there is a good chance that he resigned as a face-saving measure and would have been pushed out regardless. Nevertheless, he brings up a very good point in his resignation statement: that people who have been convicted of crimes deserve a second chance. Uttley says that is why he recruited Guimont-Mota, and if so, he had a noble intent. The fact that in this case it did not work out does not change the worth of the endeavor.
There is a persistent myth in our society that crimes are committed by a special breed of people called criminals, who are separated from us normal, law-abiding citizens by a vast and impenetrable gulf. This myth has led us to create a society in which it is very difficult for those who have committed crimes to participate fully, even after they have completed their sentences, often causing them to commit more crimes. By denying those convicted of crimes the opportunity to study at a place like McGill, one deprives them of the tools they need to stay out of prison. Of course, sometimes even when given opportunities for rehabilitation, people continue to commit crimes, but people who have never been convicted also commit crimes.
McGill, by trying to say that it made a mistake by letting a bad person on the football team, is trying to obscure the real problem: that there seems to be an institutionalized issue with violence in the Redmen environment, and in football as a by Redmen players in the last ten years, the previous two being the aforementioned rape case and the hazing scandal that shut down the program’s 2005 season. In America, the NFL is currently plagued with one instance of off-the-field violence after another. We need to ask ourselves, as students and sports fans, if an institution that surrounds itself with violence deserves our support.