Last week, The Crimson reported that in 2012, the Harvard men’s soccer team wrote a list that graphically evaluated the freshmen recruits on the 2012 women’s soccer team in sexually explicit terms based on their physical appearances.
On Thursday night, the prestigious university announced they were cancelling the remainder of the team’s 2016 season after an investigation uncovered that this was not a one-time occurrence, but a yearly tradition that involved more than just a few individuals. The team was on a six-game winning streak and in first place in the Ivy League standings.
Among other things, the “scouting report” assigned each woman an imagined sexual position in addition to her position on the field. The author of the 2012 “report” said that one of the recruits “seems relatively simple and probably inexperienced sexually, so I decided missionary would be her preferred position.”
He nicknamed another recruit “Gumbi” and rated her a “six” because “her gum to tooth ratio is about 1 to 1.” Of another recruit, he wrote that she was “very strong, tall, and manly so, I gave her a 3 because I felt bad.” Based on pictures he could find online, he noted that a different recruit “wants cock.”
After the news of the report surfaced last week, six members of the Harvard women’s soccer recruiting class of 2012 wrote an op-ed in The Crimson. The women say they had viewed the entire document, which “attempts to pit us against one another, as if the judgment of a few men is sufficient to determine our worth.”
But the women also say that because of the empowerment they’ve gained from playing soccer for 18 years, they have the strength to fight back against those crass, demeaning descriptions.
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. We are distraught that mothers having daughters almost a half century after getting equal rights have to worry about men’s entitlement to bodies that aren’t theirs. We are concerned for the future, because we know that the only way we can truly move past this culture is for the very men who perpetrate it to stop it in its tracks.
“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,” University President Drew G. Faust said in a statement.
This comes a year after a survey of Harvard students revealed a “troubling” sexual assault atmosphere at the university, and Faust said she was looking into whether this behavior was prevalent in other sports teams on campus.
Athletics Director Robert L. Scalise said that the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response will work with student-athletes, particularly the men’s soccer team, to “further educate” them.