‘We do not pity ourselves, nor do we ache most because of the personal nature of this attack’
Despite being ranked first in the Ivy League, Harvard’s Men’s soccer team has found its season abruptly canceled after the school discovered an “appalling” tradition of the squad ranking its female counterparts.
According to the BBC, since 2012 team members had been issuing “scouting reports” that contained pictures of the women’s team players as well as lewd comments and numerical rankings of their attractiveness.
The school’s newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, reports that the decision to cancel the season entirely was made after the school discovered the current players hadn’t been forthcoming about their participation during an initial investigation. Once it was learned that this distasteful tradition was still “widespread across the team,” the 2016 season was canceled.
Harvard President Drew Faust issued a statement on the matter, declaring, "The decision to cancel a season is serious and consequential, and reflects Harvard's view that both the team's behavior and the failure to be forthcoming when initially questioned are completely unacceptable, have no place at Harvard, and run counter to the mutual respect that is a core value of our community.”
Had the team been allowed to continue its season, it would have clinched a spot in the NCAA tournament with a win over Columbia this weekend.
In order to curb this type of behavior in the future, the school’s athletics department will partner with the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, among others, to educate student-athletes on "the seriousness of these behaviors and the general standard of respect and conduct that is expected."
Further, the Crimson ran an op-ed piece entitled “Stronger Together” co-written by several women mentioned in the report. They pulled no punches in conveying their anger, exhaustion, and frustration in not only dealing with this incident but the culture that allowed it to transcend classes for five years.
In all, we do not pity ourselves, nor do we ache most because of the personal nature of this attack. More than anything, we are frustrated that this is a reality that all women have faced in the past and will continue to face throughout their lives. We feel hopeless because men who are supposed to be our brothers degrade us like this. We are appalled that female athletes who are told to feel empowered and proud of their abilities are so regularly reduced to a physical appearance.
The message the piece sends is powerful and resonant, ending:
Finally, to the men of Harvard Soccer and any future men who may lay claim to our bodies and choose to objectify us as sexual objects, in the words of one of us, we say together: “I can offer you my forgiveness, which is—and forever will be—the only part of me that you can ever claim as yours.