The report became public in the midst of debate over Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s comments about groping women, which elicited outrage from some after he described the conversation as “locker room talk,” and at a time of intense scrutiny of the issue of sexual assault on campuses nationwide. Nearly 300 colleges are being investigated by the federal government for possible mishandling of sexual assault complaints, and high-profile cases at Stanford, Yale, Baylor and many other schools have generated public interest far beyond the campus community. More and more schools are trying to prevent problems by emphasizing the importance of consent and a culture of respect.
So the Crimson article — which described a nine-page report with a numerical rating of sexual attractiveness and a paragraph of description for each woman, such as “she looks like the kind of girl who both likes to dominate, and likes to be dominated” — struck some as emblematic.
At Harvard, the story also came just months after the university issued a report on sexual assault that called for changing the campus culture — including its all-male final clubs — and beginning mandatory annual prevention training for all students.
Bob Scalise, the athletic director, responded in a written statement: “Harvard University Athletics has zero tolerance for behavior of this kind and is deeply upset by these offensive and derogatory remarks.
“Harvard College students, including members of our athletic teams, are required to uphold the values of this community, which are rooted in the respect and dignity for all members of our community. University Athletics continues to reinforce with our student-athletes appropriate and respectful social behavior and team conduct.”
A spokeswoman for Harvard University said in a written statement, “The offensive and derogatory remarks reported by the Crimson have no place at Harvard. … Now that we have been made aware of this document and its contents, the University is working to assess the circumstances surrounding it.”
Pieter Lehrer, head coach for Harvard men’s soccer, wrote in a statement: “When I first heard of this report from the Crimson, I was shocked and disgusted.
“I make it a priority to speak with my current student-athletes about the many lessons learned on and off the playing fields, and I will take this opportunity to address this document from 2012 with my current athletes. I hope their seeing how offensive and hurtful this is will be a valuable lesson for everyone involved with this program.”
The head coach for the women’s soccer team, Chris Hamblin, praised the team members of the 2016 class as “outstanding student-athletes and are, above all else, incredible human beings” in a statement. He said he was saddened by the disrespect shown to them.
He also noted a change: “Since Coach Lehrer’s hire in 2013, I have seen a huge shift in the culture of the men’s soccer program at Harvard. In addition to the success on the field, the standards expected by Coach Lehrer and his staff have fostered a culture of respect and accountability that have impacted the success of the men’s team and also strengthened the bonds between the men’s and women’s soccer programs. The current rapport between the men’s and women’s teams is founded upon the supportive cultures and mutual respect that exists today between the two programs.”
This post has been updated to more accurately identify the coach of the women’s soccer team.