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Growing? As the Rugrats would put it, Nike University is all growed up. Take a look around at the place. The New York Times says that the University of Oregon’s palais des sports (whose walls do not – yet – say RAPE YOUR ENEMIES, but do say EAT YOUR ENEMIES) is “enough to make an NFL team jealous.” To me, that doesn’t sound like a growing sports culture. It sounds like an accomplished sports culture.

The University of Oregon is, in the particular case, a basketball culture which seems to be fostering a troubling rape culture. Aggression above all.

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7 Responses to ““In addition to questioning the county DA’s choice not to prosecute, UO students and faculty alike are questioning whether the school’s growing sports culture is fostering a troubling rape culture.””

  1. Dennis Says:

    Far too many prosecutors and universities tolerate serious misbehavior by athletes, as you’ve often demonstrated. This doesn’t seem to be one of those cases. The police did a very thorough investigation, interviewing all the participants and several other people with knowledge of the matter:


    Read that report completely through and you will see why the prosecutor didn’t file charges and why Oregon didn’t rush to dismiss the athletes involved. Absent some damning evidence the police couldn’t find, no jury in the country would convict on this record. The complainant simply doesn’t come across as truthful. Some of her own friends contradict her, none of the witnesses supported her story, and much of her behavior was inconsistent with the notion that she was a rape victim.

    Even her own words suggest otherwise: she doesn’t claim she was too drunk to consent, she didn’t assert she was forced or threatened, and she admitted that she willingly participated in much of the conduct including two sessions of group sex in a bathroom at a party. After supposedly being raped, she slept all night with one of the men, then the next morning willingly gave him oral sex and later snuggled with him on a couch in the living room with several other people nearby. She comes across as, at most, a naive and confused young woman who initially was happy with the attention that led to group sex and only later was nudged to claim rape.

    The Duke experience should be a lesson to all of us: don’t jump to conclusions about alleged rapes and “rape culture.” At least wait until after you’ve heard both sides and have reviewed the evidence.

  2. dmf Says:

    dennis, was this the lesson that we should have learned?

  3. Dennis Says:

    Several lessons, actually.

    The WNYC story about underage drinking and bad-boy behavior is one of them, but now that colleges have surrendered their role in loco parentis, there’s not too much they can do about off-campus behavior. The far more important lesson is that we shouldn’t reach conclusions without considering all the evidence available, particularly when false or inaccurate allegations of criminal activity can destroy the lives of falsely accused people. (Parts of Cohan’s book, by the way, notably the unearned credence he gives to the abusive and lying Durham prosecutor, have been fully debunked. You can find ample sources with a minute’s search.)

    One other lesson goes beyond the Oregon or Duke cases: universities are simply not equipped to deal with allegations of serious felonies. They lack the appropriate resources, they begin their work with ineradicable biases, and they use procedures that could be called kangaroo courts, if that weren’t an insult to kangaroos.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Dennis: I agree with all of that with one exception: Surely one obvious thing universities can do to decrease the possibility of attacks on their students is not to go out of their way to recruit and retain – and encourage in their on and off the field aggressivity – people like Richie Incognito. Why was a person like that at two of our universities? Many sports schools positively groom their own local bully/criminal class. (Why does a university – the University of Oregon – have a big sign up in one of its cafeterias saying Eat Your Enemies?) I think it’s really hard for a lot of Americans to remember that universities are intellectual, reasoning, locations. People seem shocked to discover that universities – as you note – are not really institutions set up to deal with the consequences of some of their recruiting, retention, and training decisions. They should give their now-professionalized and rather dangerous leagues over to the professionals. Get them off campus. And – on the up side – you can see parents voting with their feet at notoriously dangerous schools (and larger towns) like the Univ. of Montana and environs. As schools begin to suffer attrition and non-attendance, perhaps they will finally be forced to look directly at what they’ve done to themselves.

  5. Dennis Says:

    I agree entirely. Partly through your reporting, I’ve come to the conclusion that big-time sports have corrupted universities from bottom to top, from beginning to end (recruiting, lowered admission standards, fake courses, improper assistance from tutors, gift grades from sympathetic faculty, and on and on). The solution, however unlikely is to eliminate that level of sports and rely on club teams, intramurals, and the like — with no athletic scholarships or preferential admissions. That would go a long way to reducing the criminal activity we see so often.

    Once a university admits students, however, it has an obligation to treat them fairly. That means coming up with fair ways to evaluate allegations against them. Simply receiving a complaint and throwing the accused to the wolves, which is what Duke did and what the Oregon protestors were demanding, isn’t a fair way — yet that is just what too many universities do, when they’re not doing the opposite by covering up real wrongdoing.

  6. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Dennis: I think part of the problem is that many of these cases – both of the ones you mention – Duke and Oregon – seem to have featured plenty of awful behavior (the Duke lacrosse team seems to have had a richly deserved horrible reputation, as you probably know, long before The Event) not rising to criminality. So while I agree obviously that it’s hideously wrong to throw the accused to the wolves, it’s also often the case that the accused have indeed acted disgustingly and have therefore generated a lot of nasty commentary, reaction, etc.

  7. Dennis Says:

    By all means, criticize the bad behavior, not that it will do much good. There was plenty of bad behavior in those cases and in others — by the complainants as well as by the accused.

    But there’s a world of difference between criticizing the Duke players for underage drinking and hiring a stripper and condemning them as rapists, which is what the vocal members of the Duke faculty and student body and most of the press did. Similarly, one should criticize the boorish behavior of the Oregon athletes (really, group sex in a bathroom at a party?), but on this record calling them rapists and demanding their jailing and expulsion isn’t the way to do it.

    If one is going to criticize, however, one should be even handed and include the women who participated in the bad behavior and then, far worse, falsely accused the other students of rape. That’s not victim-blaming because they were participants, not victims.

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