Harvard Proves Privilege Does Not Equal Advancement

Another day – another sports scandal. I’m getting to the point in my life where scandals and sports are becoming intertwined.

This one strikes me as a different kind of scandal. It’s a disaster created by a group of privileged, well-educated male athletes.

Like the Duke Lacrosse scandal, Harvard men’s soccer team has been suspended for the season. They were taken off the field because they created a grading system for the women’s soccer team.

No, not grading them based upon their free kick ability, how they whip in a cross or a great through ball. These boys used a Google Group to create a document to post their desires for the women based upon their physical appearance and have been doing it since at least 2012. Also included in this “scouting report,” as the team termed it, were sickening nicknames for the women as and talk of how the males would have sex with them.

This “scouting report” was first posted to the members on July 21, 2012 leading me to ask the question: are we seriously this backward in society still?

A group of privileged student athletes violate the civil liberties, objectify and sexually intimidate these women. Unfortunately this isn’t the first case of this –  but we never seem to learn.

In 2006, the Duke Lacrosse case exploded onto the scene for a multitude of reasons. It was well documented in ESPN’s 30 for 30 Frantic Lies documentary. In that instance, the players should have never put themselves in a situation where they could be accused of sexually assaulting the two women.

However, after the incident Duke put up a wall that made those outside of the University community assume it was privilege covering for privilege. Many had no idea of what truly happened until months and years later because the players were kept isolated. Again, it was a situation that never should have happened. This can happen even at a place where we expect students to use their best judgements.

The Duke Lacrosse team lost their season because of the media attention swirling around the allegations. Rightly or wrongly the administration decided that this was the best course of action to take.

A week before the Harvard men’s soccer season was cancelled, the Athletic Director Robert L. Scalise said that he would review the documents.   After reviewing them, he would reach out to BOTH men’s and women’s soccer team coaches and then come up with a solution. All of this would be kept in-house, this response was in his words, “not a media thing.”

Are you serious?

Not be a media thing?

No, let’s not come out and issue a statement about how terrible this is. Let’s not issue a statement saying these boys not just graded but judged women on their appearance, treated them like objects and have been getting away with it for years. In fact, the document was available for public viewing for over 4 years until just recently.

Does he want to create a culture like the Baylor football team had with Harvard men’s soccer? A culture where the assaulted are afraid to stand up because athletic directors refuse to listen? A culture where sports are more important than victims rights? A culture where the accused don’t get their day in court because it’s “not a media thing?”

I believe that at some point in people’s lives we have to make choices. We have to do things to make ourselves happy, whether it is to go to class because of our future, go to an athletic event or attend a party. All of this comes with a certain responsibility that we take on. This burden that we carry is the world around us and how our choices change those people, things and places.

Whatever we want to do we can do. We can choose to bind ourselves to the laws of states and governments but whatever we do we have to protect the rights of others and live in a world where we make it better so that others can have choices. That means not degrading others based upon appearances. That means not lowering ourselves to a basic level.

As a society I wonder if we have come far enough to consider ourselves civil. Or even civilised. It concerns me when a group of young men (I shudder to use the term men with this group) or a Presidential candidate degrade women. Why is this continued to be accepted? Why is this ok? This isn’t a choice.

There should be no choosing to degrade another individual. Anyone that chooses to do such a thing should be ostracized. As a civilized society we cannot advance without the ability to accept and embrace.

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