Harvard Sends Strong Message on Sexual Harassment

November 5th 2016

Willie Burnley Jr.

After years of high-profile cases in which athletes have gotten nothing more than slaps on the wrist for sexual harassment and assault, Harvard University has made a strong statement about injustice on college campuses.

On Thursday, the Ivy League university announced that it would be cancelling the remainder of the top-ranked men’s soccer team season after an investigation revealed that they had created an annual “scouting report” document that rated members of the women’s soccer team on their physical appearance and perceived sexual appeal. Based on this, the men would characterize each of their counterparts as a hypothetical sex position.

The findings came to light after a 2012 document circulated among the men’s team earlier this week revealed the practice and prompted review. Drew G. Faust, president of the university, reportedly said in a statement:

“I was deeply disturbed to read the news reporting concerning the men’s soccer team. Such behavior is appalling and completely at odds with the mutual respect that is a fundamental value of our community.”

The men's soccer team issued an apology on Thursday.

In one section they maintained that what happened amongst members is not indicative of their views in real life.

We want to affirm that the scouting report did not and does not reflect our view of the members of Harvard Women’s Soccer or of women in general. The relationship we have enjoyed with their team to this day means the world to us, and we are deeply ashamed that it took a public revelation, a loss of trust, and damaged friendships for us to fully grasp the gravity of our conduct, for which each member of our team takes full and equal responsibility. No woman deserves to be treated in this manner; not our mothers, our sisters, nor our peers. We apologize to them, and to all those who trusted us, supported us, and believed in us.

Sexism and assault on campus have been known not to generate strong consequences.

Students that are charged with sexual assault like Brock Turner of Stanford and John Enochs of Indiana University seem to receive light sentences. Only last month, Harvard tried to have a sexual harassment lawsuit brought on by a woman who said administrators mishandled her case thrown out of court. Not to mention many colleges, including Harvard, are still under Title IX investigations by the federal government.

While it's clear that the school still has a long way to go, by opening Title IX investigations into members of the men's soccer team, they're at least moving in the right direction.