NYTIMES - Harvard announced on Thursday (Nov 3) that it was cancelling 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," Mr Robert L. Scalise, Harvard's athletic director, wrote in an email to the university's student-athletes at about 6 pm.
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." Harvard president Drew Faust indicated in a statement Thursday that she had learned the practice was not isolated to 2012 and had continued into this year.
"The decision to cancel a season is serious and consequential, and reflects Harvard's view that both the team's behaviour and the failure to be forthcoming when initially questioned are completely unacceptable," she said.
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 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 behaviour.
"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."
Harvard was No. 1 in the Ivy League standings with a 4-0-1 conference record, 10-3-2 over all. Only two regular-season games were left in the men's season, against Columbia, which is tied for second, and the University of Pennsylvania. Harvard will forfeit the opportunity to win an Ivy League championship or participate in this year's NCAA tournament, Mr Scalise wrote.
The department, he said, would work with the university's Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response to educate student-athletes "about the seriousness of these behaviours and the general standard of respect and conduct that is expected."