Beyond the Bison: Sexism and the “Scouting Report”

Isabelle Hinckley, Staff Writer

Earlier this fall, the men’s soccer team at Harvard University ended their 2016 season prematurely after the sexist tradition known as the “scouting report” was exposed.

This team “tradition” began back in 2012, when a group of players assessed freshman recruits from the women’s soccer team based on physical attributes and sexual appeal. It is still unknown whether subsequent teams continued to create similar reports in the following years; however, a series of email exchanges among the team described it to be an ongoing tradition.

The nine-page document, or “scouting report” as the Harvard men named it, was circulated throughout the team via email. The language used was extremely lewd and vulgar. The report included numerical ratings of sexual attractiveness, detailed descriptions and photos of the women, along with their positions on the soccer field and hypothetical sex positions.

The author wrote that one woman who “seems relatively simple and probably inexperienced sexually, so I decided missionary would be preferred position.” And about another, “she seems to be very strong, tall and manly so, I gave her a three because I felt bad. Not much needs to be said on this one folks.” Lewd phrases littered the report, including sickening comments such as “she was both the hottest and the most STD ridden.”

This incident is only one of hundreds that exemplify the pressing issue of sexual assault and rape culture on college campuses. Stanford, Yale, and Baylor have also experienced national headline status in recent years due to high-profile cases of sexual assault. As I read about the men’s soccer team at Harvard, I couldn’t help but wonder which university would be next, and worry about something similar happening at our university, where incidents of sexual harassment or sexual acts without consent are brought to light (and rightfully so).

I hope that these stories of other universities will serve as both a warning and a wake -up call. I hope that every student at the University will reconsider our campus culture, and will work to restore and maintain a society of mutual respect, where “scouting reports” refer to athletic talent alone.

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