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Harvard Sexism Scandal Spreads to Cross-Country

November 7, 2016

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."


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