By Kelly Gilbert
Harvard University suspended its men’s soccer team for the remainder of the season due to the discovery of sexually explicit “scouting reports” created by team members in 2012.
The document contained vulgar commentary and degrading sexual language directed towards members of the Harvard University women’s soccer team.
News of the scouting reports’ existence initially became widely publicized by Harvard University’s student run newspaper, The Crimson, in late Oct. of this year.
Following the publication of the article was an investigation into the 2012 men’s soccer team, which later reaffirmed that the reports existed and that the documentation was an annual tradition amongst team members.
Harvard University President Drew Faust condemned the scouting reports in a recent statement.
“Their appalling actions were not isolated to one year or the actions of a few, but appeared to be more widespread across the team and continued through the current season,” said Faust in his statement.
Based on The Crimson’s article, and the investigation, the men had been circulating the document throughout the team using Google groups, an email platform which until recently could be viewed by the public.
“The Report” featured each female recruit, ranking them on a scale of one through ten based upon physical appearance. It assigned them a hypothetical sex position juxtaposing their position on the field, and also attached a photo from their social media account to go along with the description.
“I am absolutely disgusted that individuals attending such a prestigious university have the audacity to do that women,” said Sacred Heart University women’s club soccer player and junior Dava Fortunato. “As a female soccer player myself, I am offended just by hearing it.”
With the unveiling of the report to Harvard University officials, disciplinary actions against the team were initiated immediately.
“I have no other emotions toward the situation other than disgust and shock. If I went to Harvard, I would want them to drop the men’s soccer team as punishment,” said Fortunato. “If that’s the first documented incident, who’s to say that they won’t do more? Or try and get physical?”
The decision to cancel the remaining season for the men’s soccer team, including postseason play, was done by athletic director, Robert Scalise.
Despite the fact that the team was in first place in the Ivy League at the time, Scalise’s decision was made in an effort to demonstrate Harvard University’s zero tolerance of such behavior.
“I think the decision was very appropriate,” said Dr. Steven Michels, Director of Sacred Heart University Assessment. “It’s important to point out that this is the lightest penalty possible. It’s not even a penalty, really. Playing on a sports team in college is a privilege, not a right.”
Michels continued by highlighting how the issue affects more than just the players.
“The men will get over it soon enough,” said Michels. “For the women, it will take much longer. The university had to do something to let students know that a campus is first and foremost a place for learning, and it should be protected as such.”
As for the women soccer players violated by the reports, they took to The Crimson to voice their reply to the men’s soccer team earlier this month.
In an excerpt from The Crimson, several women on the team collectively wrote, “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.”
Moving forward, Harvard Athletics plans on partnering with the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response as well as other resources to further the education of not just the men’s soccer team, but also all student athletes, about standards of pride and respect.
The Associated Press and Harvard University’s, The Crimson, contributed to this article.