Harvard University officials, already facing a scandal over the way members of the men's soccer team treated members of the women's team, are now investigating reports that the men's cross-country team engaged in similar conduct.
The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper that broke the story about the soccer team, reported that members of the men's cross-country team have come forward about a spreadsheet -- prepared in advance of dances held with the women's team members -- commenting on the female athletes' appearance, sometimes with "sexually explicit terms." The Crimson article said the male athletes came forward in part because Harvard, in suspending that team, cited the lack of honest answers by some men's soccer players.
Harvard released this statement from Bob Scalise, the athletics director: "Harvard Athletics does not tolerate this sort of demeaning and derogatory behavior, and we will address any credible information we receive."
The men's soccer team, meanwhile, has published an apology for team members' role in the "scouting report," a document that uses sexist and graphic descriptions to discuss members of the women's team. The Crimson, the student newspaper, last month revealed the existence of the document, quoting from a version several years old. Last week, after the university discovered that members of the current team were still participating in creating the report, the university called off the rest of the team's season.
The apology from the team was published Friday in the Crimson.
"On behalf of all of us at Harvard men’s soccer, we sincerely apologize for the harm our words and actions have caused women everywhere, and especially our close friends on the women’s soccer team," the apology says. "Our team has been blessed with the opportunity to know and learn from these incredible women, receive their unconditional support, and form with them some of the strongest friendships on this campus. In return, we hurt them with the things we said, in the form of the inappropriate scouting reports, and with the things we did not say, in the form of our dishonesty toward them, and for that we are very sorry."
The letter of apology went on to say, "When our current coaches took over the program in 2013, they sparked a massive culture change, one in which it is paramount to hold each other accountable for our actions. These scouting reports, an inexcusable manifestation of sexism and misogyny on our part, persisted in spite of this culture change, and we must now hold ourselves accountable for them."
Nancy Shurtz, a law professor at the University of Oregon, has issued an apology for a Halloween costume she wore featuring blackface. Shurtz has been placed on paid leave over the incident, which has led many at the university to call for her to resign. An image of her at the party (at right) has circulated widely on social media.
Her statement, in full: “During a Halloween party I hosted at my house, I wore a costume inspired by a book I highly admire, Dr. Damon Tweedy’s memoir, Black Man in a White Coat.I intended to provoke a thoughtful discussion on racism in our society, in our educational institutions and in our professions. As part of my costume, I applied black makeup to my face and wore a white coat and stethoscope. In retrospect, my decision to wear black makeup was wrong. It provoked a discussion of racism, but not as I intended. I am sorry for the resultant hurt and anger inspired by this event. It is cruelly ironic that this regrettable episode began with my admiration for a book that explores important aspects of race relations in our society, but ended up creating toxic feelings within our community. I intended to create a conversation about inequity, racism and our white blindness to them. Regrettably, I became an example of it. This has been a remarkable learning experience for me. I hope that all who are hurt or angered by my costume will accept my apology. I meant no harm to them or others. Out of respect for all involved, I will make no further comments to the media until the university’s investigation is completed.”
Delta State University, which has been the last public university in Mississippi to fly the state flag, announced Thursday that it would stop doing so. Students and faculty members at the university -- as has been the case at other public universities in the state -- have been urging the state to change the state flag, which featured a Confederate flag in one corner. As the state has not done so, the rest of the public universities stopped flying the state flag.
William N. LaForge, president of Delta State, issued a statement Thursday explaining the decision.
"The objectionable portion of the state flag -- the stars and bars -- presents a polarizing symbol that is a barrier to progress and improved understanding of our state, our university and our people," he said. "Delta State recently completed a visioning process, during which we set a course of excellence for the university’s future. Included in our visioning principles are a number of core values that we promote and embrace, including civility, respect for all, diversity, inclusion, fairness, hospitality and a welcoming environment that is conducive to the success of our students, faculty and staff. We believe that continuing to fly the state flag -- with its divisive symbol that sends a confusing message, at best, and that has increasingly become a distraction to our mission -- is contrary to our core values and to an accurate understanding of who we are and what we stand for as a university."
Harvard University announced Thursday that it was calling off the remainder of this year's men's soccer season, and would decline any postseason play opportunities. The news followed the discovery that a "scouting report" by the men's team in 2012 -- featuring sexist comments about members of the women's team -- continued up until this year, and that some team members were not honest about the continued existence of the document. A statement from Harvard President Drew Faust said, "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."
Harvard University President Drew Faust has ordered a full investigation into the "scouting report" in which members of the men's soccer team circulated rankings of the women's team members, complete with sexist comments of their appearance and crude remarks about them. Since The Harvard Crimson revealed the practice of making the report, many at the university have been speaking out against it.
In a statement Tuesday to The Boston Globe, Faust said, “I want to ensure not only that such actions do not happen again, whether on men’s soccer or any other Harvard team, but also that all members of our community fully understand that such activities have never been, and never will be, acceptable at Harvard.”
Some research attributes gender imbalances in the sciences, technology, math and engineering in part to women’s deliberate life choices; in other words, getting married and having children keeps some women out of the workforce. But a new study suggests that even women with undergraduate STEM degrees who planned to delay marriage and child rearing were no more likely than other STEM women to land a job in the sciences two years after graduation. The men most likely to enter STEM occupations adhered to significantly more conventional gender ideologies than their female counterparts, expecting to marry at younger ages but also to remain childless, according to the study.
Still, the study attributes the majority of the gender disparity in transitions into STEM jobs to women's underrepresentation in engineering and computer science studies.
“The Missing Women in STEM? Assessing Gender Differentials in the Factors Associated With Transition to First Jobs,” published in Social Science Research, analyzes data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. It tracks young people’s career aspirations that year and their career paths periodically thereafter and focuses on 163 women and 353 men with undergraduate STEM degrees. Over all, 41 percent of women graduating with a STEM degree were employed in a STEM job within two years of completing college, compared to 53 percent of men -- a statistically significant difference, the study says.
The researchers attribute their major finding, in part, to employer bias against women and women’s underrepresentation in STEM majors. Another major reason for the employment gap was women’s underrepresentation in STEM majors (especially outside of the life sciences), the study says. And men in the study were more likely than women to have traditional views about women being responsible for housework and child care, leading the researchers to suggest that some women found the STEM climate too conservative to work in; many women in the study found non-STEM work.
“These women have the characteristics of the ideal worker. They expect to have few family distractions and work in STEM both within five years and at midlife. They really have strong aspirations,” Sharon Sassler, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University who co-wrote the study, said in a statement. “But they were no more likely to enter STEM jobs than women who anticipated marrying young and having two or more children.”
Sassler said this dynamic exacerbates the gender imbalance seen at other points in the career pipeline. “If women aren’t getting into these STEM jobs, then they’re not there to mentor other women. They’re not there to climb the ladder and help with hiring.”
In September, students and others at Eastern Michigan University were shaken by several incidents of racist graffiti being found on campus. On Monday, the university was again roiled, this time by a large spray-painted message -- using the N-word -- urging black people to leave. The university has offered a reward for information leading authorities to the person or persons responsible. On social media, some are saying Eastern Michigan hasn't done enough to prevent such incidents.
Jim Smith, president of the university, released a statement condemning the racist message.
"The deeper and systemic issues that are behind these incidents continue to be a focus for our student leaders, our faculty, our administration and all who care about this institution and the welfare of our students. These incidents run counter to the values and mission of the university and our actions over the past several weeks and going forth have and will continue to reflect that," he said. "Again, I am personally angered and saddened, and want to convey my strong sense of resolve in finding out who is behind these incidents and in continuing to come together as a campus community to confront hate and racism, and promote an environment of mutual understanding and inclusion."