The Amherst Student - The recent report of the Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct at Amherst contains some good suggestions on how to improve the disciplinary system and the delivery of psychological and medical care to victims of rape, recommendations that are already being implemented. But in one important respect, the report is seriously flawed. That flaw appears in the very first pages of the report. The Committee tells us that it is a “stereotyped assumption that athletes are more prone to sexual misconduct than non-athletes.” It concludes that it would be “counterproductive to indict any one demographic.” The report claims that their research found that athletes were not disproportionately represented among perpetrators of sexual misconduct.
But it seems clear that the Committee found no evidence because it didn’t look. Numerous studies throughout the country have shown clear relationships between single sex teams and sexual assault. Meegan Mercurio of Providence College provides a useful summary of such research in her 2010 thesis, “Athletics and Violence Against Women: A Study of Relationship.” (available at Digitalcommons@Providence.edu) Mecurio notes that in one study, at a university where male athletes made up only two percent of the undergraduate student body, male athletes were found to be responsible for approximately 20 percent of reported cases of sexual assault.
Given the prominent role that team sports plays at Amherst, for a select committee assigned to address sexual violence to ignore athletics is very disappointing. Without trying to assume that I know the minds of the members of the Committee, I do know that athletics at Amherst College provides a major link between alumni and the student body, that contributions to the College are correlated with the relative success of our teams, especially, though not exclusively, the football team. And, while I do not know because I don’t have access to the budget for the athletic department, my eyes tell me as I drive down Route 9, that we are spending more and more money to support a violent sport that inevitably results in brain injuries to at least some of our students.
How is this related to the report on sexual assault? It provides us with a possible reason why athletic culture was not discussed at any length by the Committee. The very reluctance of the Committee could be ¬— and has been — construed as testimony to the outsized role that athletics plays in the life of the College: in admissions, in budget, in interference with the curriculum. For us to avoid having a serious and independent investigation of the current athletic culture at Amherst is to do a disservice to the community, especially to those students who have had the courage to speak out, privately and publicly, and who have themselves been accused of being “anti-athletic.” It is, in my opinion, long past time for us to reevaluate the role of sports in the life of Amherst. That the occasion of this Committee’s investigation did not even touch upon the matter is not a good sign, because it suggests that such a discussion is not possible, given the outsized power of our athletic complex, especially among alumni and trustees.
Wait a minute….Is this guy a professor at Oklahoma or Amherst? I mean he’s making it sound like he’s teaching at Miami in the mid 80’s or something. Bro you teach at Amherst. Since when did Amherst become a sports factory? This guy has watched School Ties one too many times or something. Because I’m pretty sure everybody knows academics comes first at Amhert. It’s pretty fucking ridiculous to insinuate that a Special Oversight Committee would ignore rape to protect the football team. This isn’t Penn State. Grow up.
Anyway none of that is even the point of this blog. I’m sick of people doing shit like this. Pulling out a couple studies here and a couple studies there. What’s that old expression, there are lies, there are damned lies and then there are statistics? Well that certainly applies here. I’m sure for every study this egghead cited there are five studies that refute it. I mean without doing an ounce of research I can come up with a pretty good hypothesis on why athlete’s date rape statistics could potentially be higher than the rest of the student body. For starters athletes are popular and more sexually active than the rest of the campus. They get laid more. They party more. Girls want to be around them more. Chicks love partying at the lax house or the hockey house. Guys getting fucked up. Chicks getting fucked up. It’s a volatile situation. It’s the environment that can lead to increased sexual assaults regardless of who is in that situation. It has nothing to do with an “athletic culture” or a type of mentality that athletes have. If the geek club could have ragers at their houses where tons of bitches showed up throwing themselves at dudes than I’m sure the rape stats would be the same. If athletes locked themselves in their rooms and were afraid to talk to girls I’m sure the rape stats would be lower. The facts are it’s higher because the social interactions are much higher. I didn’t need to be a professor at Amherst to figure that one out. To make sweeping generalizations about people because they play a sport is nothing short of idiotic.