Friday, January 9, 2015

Oregon Football, Jameis Winston, and Institutional Handling of Sexual Assault Accusations

Jeff Gross/Getty Images 
While basking in the last few minutes of the Oregon victory over Florida State in the first college play-off game, I posted this article from The Nation: A Reality of Their Own: Jameis Winston, Rape and Seminole Fandom at Florida State. I was proud of Oregon's win, but I also felt so relieved because finally the good guys won.

Then, as the Ducks celebrated, they were criticized for chanting "No Means No" to the rhythm of the Seminole war chant. Coach Helfrich stated these players would face discipline and although I haven't heard what discipline would be given, it's ironic that these players, who were celebrating a victory by rubbing an opponent's face (not very sportsman-like) and weren't likely providing a display of support for Winston's victim, will face more formal discipline than Winston ever will.

I wish I could say these players, and the Oregon fans who also chanted "No Means No," were providing a thoughtful critique of FSU's mishandling of rape accusations and their use of a racist chant, but in this testosterone charged college football bowl game atmosphere, this was likely more fueled by alcohol and adrenaline than political commentary.

Still, at Oregon, students and student athletes are well-aware of what sexual assault accusations look like and how they can be handled. U of O students protested and forced the hand of administration to  act on sexual assault charges brought against three U of O basketball players. Just like the Winston case, the district attorney never brought charges, but that is when the athletic department and University stepped in. Not only were these three players were dismissed from the team, they were later suspended from Oregon for as long as the victim attended.

Our colleges and universities and their associated athletic programs have a great deal to learn about how to create safe campuses for women, but at least U of O is moving in the right direction. Once again, go Ducks!

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