Harvard Blows The Teaching Moment

The result is that Drew Faust, president of Harvard, ended the soccer season for the first place boys’ team. How “horrible” this punishment is is a fair question. It’s just a Division 1 sport, and its players lost the honor of taking the Ivy League championship and a cool ring.*

Sure, for those boys who came to play soccer, as well as get a Harvard diploma, it will be a painful lesson, but it’s not as if they were expelled and branded as sexists in perpetuity, as could just as easily have happened.

But it was a chance for Faust to teach a lesson, which is sort of what one would hope would happen at Harvard, in a school bound up in its own peculiar issues of addressing sexism by eradicating all tradition in contravention of almost everybody’s desires. The students didn’t go to Harvard on a lark. They worked hard to get there, and want the gloss of a Harvard education to pay their freight for the rest of their natural lives.

But when the Crimson learned that in 2012, the boys soccer team “rated” the girls soccer team, the adjectives flew.

Lawyers for the university began investigating the men’s team after the college newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, reported last week that a player created a nine-page document in 2012 with numeric ratings, photos and lengthy evaluations of the freshman recruits of the Harvard women’s team based on their physical appearance. Men on the team referred to the document as a “scouting report.”

Today, this sounds pretty awful, and rather surprising at a school as married to progressivism as Harvard. When you have an endowment bigger than most countries, and lawyers available round the clock to investigate anything that might result in adverse publicity, you sic them. And they learned that it wasn’t just 2012, which would have been bad enough, but continued afterward.

Drew Faust, Harvard’s president, indicated in a statement on Thursday that she had learned the practice was not isolated to 2012 and had continued into this year.

In the meantime, six members of the girls soccer team wrote a rebuttal for the Crimson about this conduct.

On Saturday, the Crimson published a response written by the six members of the Harvard women’s soccer recruiting class from 2012.

“We have seen the ‘scouting report’ in its entirety,” they wrote. “We know the fullest extent of its contents: the descriptions of our bodies, the numbers we were each assigned, and the comparison to each other and recruits in classes before us. This document attempts to pit us against one another, as if the judgment of a few men is sufficient to determine our worth.”

The boys’ speech was the sort of juvenile crap that guys have long engaged in, and should stop, and the girls took them to task for it. They let the boys know how they felt, good and hard.

The women wrote that they were “beyond hurt” and had considered some of the male players to be “close friends.” But they also saw the discovery of the report as an opportunity to combat such behavior.

“To the men of Harvard soccer and to the men of the world, we invite you to join us, because ultimately we are all members of the same team,” they wrote. “We are human beings and we should be treated with dignity.”

This is how it should be. When the boys said something stupid, the girls smacked them for it and, in a demonstration of maturity, came up with a far more useful outcome, to shame the offending boys for their childish and offensive behavior.

But maturity ended with this letter. Faust, perhaps fearful of having the Department of Education treat them like those sexists at Yale, just couldn’t let this affair end where the students ended it, with good speech prevailing over bad speech. She had to insert herself into the battle to do only what an administrator can do, make everything worse.

Harvard announced on Thursday that it was canceling the rest of the season for its men’s soccer team after university officials uncovered what they described as a widespread practice of the team’s players rating the school’s female players in sexually explicit terms.

“We strongly believe that this immediate and significant action is absolutely necessary if we are to create an environment of mutual support, respect and trust among our students and our teams,” Robert L. Scalise, Harvard’s athletic director, wrote in an email to the university’s student-athletes around 6 p.m.

They don’t just “believe.” They “strongly believe,” because they can afford every adjective available at Harvard. Of course, neither writing insipid yet flowery words nor ending a season changes anyone’s feelings, but it does give the appearance of doing something just in case anyone in the executive branch demands to see the dog and pony show.

“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,” [Faust] said.

The students had this covered. You keep claiming they should be treated like adults, but when they deal with their own problems, you just can’t keep your micromanagement out of their affairs. What are the chances that instead of learning a lesson about how to treat women, you taught them that they’re incapable of dealing with issues and gave rise to anger and blame within the community for blowing the first place soccer season?

Biggest deal ever? Hardly. But blowing the lesson, that they could have dealt with this without helicopter-president fixing it for them, is a terrible waste. On the other hand, the kids at Columbia are laughing their butts off, as the harder Faust kicks the Harvard soccer players where it hurts, the greater their chance of getting their own Ivy ring.

*I’m not sure if they get a ring for winning the Ivy championship, but I know they do in other sports, so I’m guessing they do in soccer as well.

9 thoughts on “Harvard Blows The Teaching Moment

  1. spumoni101

    If this had happened at a public university, would the president have been able to cancel the season without running afoul of first amendment concerns?

  2. B. McLeod

    Some variant of this “rating” activity has probably occurred every year since Harvard established a women’s soccer team. Eventually, “progressive” Harvard will just need to require that all admittees take regular does of hormone suppressants, for the duration of their “university experience.”

  3. John Barleycorn

    Who knew that the ebb and flow amongst the midfielders, sweepers, stoppers, and strikers had become so “risqué” these days?

    And so the ball bounces merrily down the pitch.
    Good thing that the Harvard administration gave it kick or the next thing you know one of those wannabe pantie sniffers on the boys club might have found themselves ducking some awkward questions as a supreme nominee. Or worse yet the nation having to endure one of the girls nominated to a supreme slot going on and on about how after reading the “scouting report” she dedicated herself to justice.

  4. PVanderwaart

    No mention of a Code of Conduct? It’s always easier to punish bad behavior if it violates a written rule.

  5. Matthew S Wideman

    I despise how School Presidents are allowed to “lump” all soccer players together. Whatever happened to personal responsibility. Couldn’t the school just punish the players who authored the list? Furthermore, I fell the Harvard President’s micromanagement is only teaching these future citizens that such authoritarian actions are normal and routine. In reality, these actions are over reaching and kind of weird. BTW in my law school class the men and the women rated the respective classmates in a list. This list was the butt of many jokes, but our Dean never spoke with my section about this PC transgression.

  6. Nigel Declan

    And now, apparently, the team has apologised “for the harm [their] words and actions have caused women everywhere, and especially [their] close friends on the women’s soccer team,” proving that disproportionality, if not a desire to capitalize on the opportunity to teach students a lesson about free speech and maturity, is alive and well at Harvard.

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