A Woolly Mammoth in the Room: Dubious Science, Athletics and Opportunism at Amherst College
Issue   |   Wed, 02/20/2013 - 01:39

Last week, in an article entitled “Elephants in the Room,” Professor Thomas Dumm accused the Amherst College Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct of having deliberately overlooked scientific evidence that students athletes were disproportionately likely to commit sexual assault. Professor Dumm speculated that a possible reason for the failure of the committee to focus on athletes as perpetrators might be that “contributions to the College are correlated with the relative success of our teams, especially, though not exclusively, the football team.” What he was implying was that the committee was perfectly prepared to allow a rape-prone subculture (i.e. male athletes) to operate unimpeded just as long as the teams kept winning and the large checks kept pouring in.

As chair of the Special Oversight Committee, I will leave it to others to assess the credibility of Professor Dumm’s charge that we entered into a devil’s bargain in return for money, influence and favorable Division III rankings. I would like instead to examine the sweeping claims Professor Dumm makes about those students at Amherst who engage seriously in athletics, and in particularly to look critically at the “scientific evidence” he calls upon to support his position.

History teaches us that if one wants to demonize a particular group there are few better ways to go about it than to claim that its members are prone to predatory sexual violence. Over the centuries this charge was quite often made, on flimsy or no evidence, against Jews, African-Americans and gays, among other groups, and its purpose was always to drum up fear and justify extreme acts of “retribution.” Often it was a prelude to efforts to exclude or exile these groups entirely. Depressingly, the historical record also shows how quickly and easily people abandon conventional standards of proof when it comes to alleged sexual deviance among groups they consider different from themselves. Irregular legal procedures, shoddy use of evidence and sloppy or misconstrued science tend to accompany sexual scapegoating as maggots accompany rotting meat.

So has science, as Professor Dumm asserts, demonstrated a “clear relationships between single-sex teams and sexual violence?” As the Special Oversight Committee discovered when it surveyed the literature preparatory to writing its report, science has demonstrated nothing of the kind. A number of studies were done in the 1980s and 1990s that sought to measure college students’ and others’ tendency to believe “rape myths,” such as the myth that a good proportion of rape-charges were actually false or the myth that women routinely said “no” to sex when they really meant “yes.” Rape myth acceptance research is much bigger than the study of athletes, but at that time — now 20 and in some cases 30 years ago — some of the evidence from some schools suggested that male athletes were getting slightly higher “rape myth acceptance” scores than their non-athlete peers (Koss and Gaines, 1993). However, as a number of experts have pointed out, many of these early studies were flawed and inconsistent in terms of the definitions they used, how they chose and delimited their test subjects, how they presented their statistical findings and how they assessed the degree to which “rape myth acceptance” was predictive of a propensity to commit sexual assault (Hinck and Thomas, 1999; Buhi, 2005; Sawyer, Thompson and Chicorelli, 2002). In addition there were real questions about how representative they were, since almost all the “athlete/rape myth” studies relied heavily on large Division I and II universities and tended to lump all male athletes together into an undifferentiated mass. It is telling that it has proved impossible to replicate these older studies in the present day.

In the 21st century the monolithic view of “athlete” adopted by most of the earlier studies completely unraveled, largely thanks to a 2002 study led by Robin Sawyer of the Univ. of Maryland School of Public Health. That study did not set out to compare athletes with non-athletes (indeed there was no non-athlete control group), but instead focused on the often significant differences between athletes. So for example, the study showed that Division I athletes, both male and female, scored higher for rape myth acceptance than Division II athletes did (the study did not examine Division III athletes at all). It also showed differences between sports and demonstrated — perhaps surprisingly for those who consider sports teams training grounds for sexual assault — that first-year and sophomore male athletes scored higher for rape myth acceptance than junior and senior athletes did (in other words, the longer a man was on a team the less likely he was to accept rape myths). The study concluded that “like any group or community, student athletes should not be lumped together as a single entity with presumed identical attitudes and behaviors” (Sawyer, Thompson and Chicorelli, 2002).

Many recent studies of rape myth acceptance have followed this dictum and now focus on behaviors and personality traits rather than on whether or not one happens to be an athlete, or, indeed, a member of any other student group. Those recent or relatively recent studies that do consider participation in athletics as a variable have been unable to show any difference at all between athletes and non-athletes, either in rape myth acceptance or in sexually aggressive behaviors. Locke and Mahalik (2005) tested the hypothesis that athletes believed more strongly in rape myths than other groups and committed more sexual assault. Simultaneously they tested the relationship between rape myth acceptance, sexual aggression and a series of multidimensional markers of masculinity. They succeeded in showing that men who drank to excess, avoided emotional commitments, engaged in high-risk behaviors and disliked homosexuals were more likely than other men to report behavior on surveys that sounded like sexual assault to researchers. However, in and of itself being an athlete made no difference at all. These results are pretty typical of what one finds today. In addition, they match the findings of Meegan Mercurio whose BA thesis from Providence College Professor that Dumm, somewhat unwisely, cites in his article as “proof” that athletes as a group are especially prone to sexual violence. Mercurio did indeed try to prove that hypothesis, though only for Division I athletes. But if Professor Dumm had taken the time to read further than the first few pages he would have seen that she does not succeed. I quote from her conclusion: “This research addressed the problem: Does playing as a Division I student athlete affect dating violence attitudes and are student athletes more likely to be perpetrators of violence? The hypothesis inferred that athletic participation may have an effect on dating violence. Instead the null hypothesis was proved and the findings theoretically proved that student athletes are not more likely to be perpetrators of violence, but in fact are less likely to be perpetrators of violence.” (Mercurio 2010, p. 25).

Along with charging that our committee neglected the science, Professor Dumm asserts that we did not take seriously the accounts of rape survivors at Amherst. The real story, clearly stated in the report, is that we did interview rape survivors and we heard via email, letter and phone from many others, including a number who are now graduated. We also surveyed every sexual assault complaint made in the last 10 years, the vast majority of which never advanced to the Hearing Board. In those accounts we did find assaults perpetrated by athletes. We also found evidence that teams had sought to silence victims. What we did not find was evidence that either athletes or particular teams were standouts in these respects. Athletes were not disproportionately more likely to be perpetrators than were non-athletes. Most important of all we found absolutely identical patterns of silencing and, at times, retaliation against victims from student organizations that had no connection whatsoever to athletics — and we found them repeatedly.

A lot of people like the idea of fobbing off the problem of sexual assault onto some other group that is not them. One can see why. If the problem can be traced to, say, the football team, why should anyone who is not on that team bother to endorse and work for sexual respect among their own groups or networks? Or encourage more comprehensive reporting? Or try to adopt or get others to adopt less risky drinking habits? Our committee believed and still believes that eliminating sexual assault at Amherst College demands a community response. The notion that the problem is all or mostly to be laid at the door of athletes is at variance with the evidence our committee painstakingly gathered about the past history of assault, and it is not supported by scientific research. If one really wants to eliminate sexual violence and enlist the entire community in doing so, blaming athletes is a truly counterproductive way to start.

And that brings me to opportunism. What is Professor Dumm’s purpose in endorsing such a patently futile strategy for eliminating sexual assault, not to mention one that unfairly singles out a particular subgroup? It is no secret that Professor Dumm is a critic of varsity athletics at Amherst College, especially football. It appears that he sees in the sexual assault issue an opportunity to discredit the athletic program, and he hopes that if enough people can be persuaded to believe athletes are natural rapists they will rise up in outrage and get rid of, or at least severely limit the program. He has such an animus against athletes and is so intent on his goal that he doesn’t even see the injustice of tarring an entire demographic with the name of sexual predator. Furthermore, he also has no compunctions about enlisting science that is out of date, anything but clear and no longer able to be replicated in order to push his views. It is anyone’s right to oppose varsity athletics. It is not, however, all right to do so in such an irresponsible way.

The full citations for the scientific studies mentioned in this article can be found at http://www3.amherst.edu/~mrhunt/

Anchor
Comments
A Gay Guy (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 05:11

Let's try an experiment. As per the Locke and Mihalik study (2005) cited above, let's admit as many men and women as possible who 1) don't drink to excess, 2) favor emotional commitments, 3) don't engage in high-risk behavior and, 4) have many friendships with homosexuals and see what effect it has on Amherst's sports teams.

If Professor Hunt is correct, it should have no effect at all.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 13:13

Locke and Mihalik argue that those factors correlate with self-reported, assault-like behavior. Participation in athletic teams, assumedly when controlling for those other factors, does not. If causality is inferred (rightly or wrongly), decreasing those four factors would then decrease self-reported, assault-like behavior across the board.

Isabelle D'Arcy (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 10:24

Hello Professor Hunt, thank you for taking the time to respond to Professor Dumm's article. I would like to point out a couple of ideas of yours that I find problematic.

First, I take issue with your idea that many want to be able to scapegoat athletics and not see themselves as responsible for promoting sexual respect. Missing for you article is any serious consideration of rape culture, what it is, and how it is perpetrated. UMass Boston Professor David Lisak (who focuses his research on sexual assault and rape culture), in his recent study "Understanding the Predatory Nature of Sexual Violence" states what we already know-- that sexual assault is about control and dominance--and yes, is linked to hyper masculinity (Lisak, 7). In light of this, exonerating the subculture of all-male sports teams (and fraternities as well) seems irresponsible. This is not scapegoating, this is deciding to acknowledge the real reasons why rapists rape and why so many get away with it-- often without having any social repercussions (and thus no deterrents). You mentioned you have found that some sports teams had "sought to silence victims." These teams are not teams full of rapists. Rather, they are teams that are collectively perpetuating rape culture.
Even if the data you looked at found no conclusive evidence to indict sports teams or condone them either way, the evidence of conflicting data and the fact that discussions of the real causes of rape and rape culture have been missing from your committee's examination so far (as evidenced by the SMOC report), should merit NOT exempting sports teams and the culture they create and perpetuate. To do otherwise raises serious cause for concern--as I believe that you sincerely want to address this issue on our campus.

On a more argument-fallacy note, trying to discredit his argument by attacking the person of Professor Dumm--whatever his opinions may be about football in other cases-- is a fallacy and does nothing to undermine the argument he puts forth. And characterizing Professor Dumm's comments about alumni contributions in such an exaggerated way also does not contribute to constructive discussion. My take on his comments is that there is an inertia within the administration of this school--whose purpose is to keep the school going (ie financially secure) and successful (not looking bad)--and to dismiss these assertions with a caricature of his statements is irresponsible and unhelpful.

[And since you so harshly dismissed the research Professor Dumm cited... If we are going to discuss invalidating the research another argument cites, I would direct readers to your citation of "Mercurio" --a B.A. thesis that, in the same paragraph as the quote you draw on about sports team members not being more likely to be perpetrators, also confesses: "the author of this study had problems getting some Varsity athletes to participate in the survey. Some said that they thought it was 'dumb,' 'waste of time.'" I could argue why an in-person survey of dating violence by sports team members is unlikely to yield confessions of assault, or why those who rejected the author in such disrespectful terms are more likely to have something to hide, but given that the author herself says she can draw no conclusion it's safe enough to say that this piece of research is not nearly sound enough to be used as grounds for your argument. ]

I am honestly surprised that as a WAGS professor in charge of this committee and report, you would produce/contribute to a debate so devoid of the real issues at play when it comes to sexual assault, as Dana Bolger argued in her article (which I would love to hear your response to). I hope that all of this debate moves our collective understanding and consciousness of the issue forward instead of elicits defensiveness.

Benjamin Lin '12 (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 11:20

I don't think Professor Hunt finds Mercurio's piece strong evidence per se, she cites parts of it because it is itself specifically cited by Professor Dumm. She isn't citing it to support the overall argument she is making about rape and rape culture, but citing it to demonstrate that it is both an insufficient piece of evidence and that Professor Dumm's characterization of it was misleading at best, dishonest at worst. It is clearly not definitive proof regarding whether or not athletes are more likely to be perpetrators - but the conclusion the author herself draws is almost the opposite of the one Dumm is suggesting in his piece.

Benjamin Lin '12 (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 10:35

I felt a barely veiled animosity towards athletes, especially football players, throughout Prof. Dumm's piece. I find Prof. Hunt's response a powerful one, and I hope it brings to life a critical self-analysis of our community's prejudices and misconceptions, which I believe have boiled to the surface repeatedly in the name of addressing the sexual assault issue. I was not an athlete at Amherst, but was a fairly mediocre one in high school - I believe the positives of the experience continue to live with me to this day.

anon (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 10:36

thank you. my faith in my professors has been restored

'14 (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 12:43

While I agree with Prof. Dumm about the importance of considering athletics teams in the sexual assault discussion, his article was far from providing any good evidence and I was also shocked that he would accuse the committee of willful negligence and a lack of integrity (which now seems rather hypocritical). And so I take my hat off to you, Prof. Hunt. Thank you for exposing his faulty analysis, as many readers such as myself were not able to research the topics on our own and would have taken his assertions at face value otherwise. Prof. Dumm, I do believe you just got served.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 12:56

Benjamin, your positive experiences on the intramural badminton team in 10th grade are irrelevant.

The committee FAILED to research the impact of sports culture on sexual misconduct on campus. They chose not to look into it. Why? Because they didn't want to. That is Dumm's point. His personal bias aside, the committee didn't do it's homework. Those are the facts.

Athlete GPA, Amherst Leads, all the volunteerism and trophies of these teams are irrelevant. Their positive impact and lasting leadership skills are irrelevant. 40% of the campus has yet to be looked into because the committee doesn't want to.

That's the fact.

Benjamin Lin '12 (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 14:29

The committee investigated allegations of sexual assault and found no relationship between athletic participation and non-athletic participation. Exactly what is it you wanted them to do, other than strip down the athletic department and publicly denigrate them?

Also, I don't know if you intend it, but your more specific claim about my experiences being irrelevant is both laughable and borderline racist.

Anon (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 15:19

"40% of the campus has yet to be looked into because the committee doesn't want to.
That's the fact." Actually, your entire comment is unverified accusation. And judging from Profesor Hunt's article, it's pretty clear that they *did* research the impact of sports culture on sexual misconduct on campus--certainly more than Professor Dumm did. By all means, though, continue launching unproductive accusations based on stereotypes and unfounded conspiracy theories.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 12:59

Thank you Isabelle. I actually could not contribute anything else to this because you hit every point on the head.

The committee didn't do it's research. That is the undeniable fact of this entire thing.

Lady Jeff '15 (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 13:01

Couldn't agree more Isabelle. As an athlete, I am completely open to the committee looking into our role on campus. I only see positive things coming from it. It's not scapegoating -- it's doing its job. I know my teammates and I have nothing to hide. So let's get to the root of any and all possible sources of perpetuated rape culture at Amherst once and for all.

Not a Legacy '15 (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 13:05

Did we really just make the jump from suggesting that the committee investigate the most permeating aspect of Amherst social culture to suggesting that Dumm is advocating ethnic cleansing? These arguments are getting desperate. Dumm never "scapegoated" our athletes. He merely raised the FACT that the committee neglected to do the research necessary to ascertain any and all roles that sports culture contributes to rape culture on campus.

Any arguments to the contrary are just emotional driven banter and they dance around the issue and FACT that Dumm raised: the committee neglected to do the research necessary to ascertain any and all roles that sports culture contributes to rape culture on campus.

I'll repeat it again for those of you who are currently drafting your next conspiracy theory, the committee NEGLECTED to do the research necessary to ascertain ANY AND ALL roles that sports culture contributes to rape culture on campus.

Lorena '13 (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 13:15

Professor Hunt,

"In those accounts we did find assaults perpetrated by athletes. We also found evidence that teams had sought to silence victims....Most important of all we found absolutely identical patterns of silencing and, at times, retaliation against victims from student organizations that had no connection whatsoever to athletics — and we found them repeatedly."

What is the committee planning on doing to unhinge the silence culture perpetuated by the offenders who participate in student organizations on campus -- athletic and nonathletic? You discuss the committee's findings in brief and fail to discuss what will come of them...which is what Professor Dumm accused the committee of doing to begin with.

Christopher Eri... (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 15:14

Lorena, I think you used ellipses to skip over a fairly important sentence. I have quoted Professor Hunt in full:

"In those accounts we did find assaults perpetrated by athletes. We also found evidence that teams had sought to silence victims. What we did not find was evidence that either athletes or particular teams were standouts in these respects. Athletes were not disproportionately more likely to be perpetrators than were non-athletes. Most important of all we found absolutely identical patterns of silencing and, at times, retaliation against victims from student organizations that had no connection whatsoever to athletics — and we found them repeatedly."

As to your point about the silence culture, the Committee makes recommendations from pages 45-52 in its report (https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/sexual_respect/committees/oversight...). Of course, these recommendations are worthless without action from the administration, but for what it's worth, the Committee does say the following:

"The Committee on Educational Policy and the Faculty should take up the question of adopting as a graduation requirement for all Amherst students a pass-fail, half-credit course focusing on issues of sexual respect that may also include bystander training. This course could potentially be offered during Interterm" (45).

They also recommend five other courses of action the college should take with regard to upperclassmen students (46), although these recommendations, generally, are vague, and do not contain concrete goals. There are also recommendations as to First-Year Students; Faculty and Staff; and resources available to students.

Once again, if the administration does not aim to improve Amherst with the committee's recommendations, this is all for naught. But I think that the report was very much a step in the right direction, and Professor Dumm's accusations about the committee fall quite short. I think the following message from Professor Hunt is probably the most important part of her article:

"Our committee believed and still believes that eliminating sexual assault at Amherst College demands a community response. The notion that the problem is all or mostly to be laid at the door of athletes is at variance with the evidence our committee painstakingly gathered about the past history of assault, and it is not supported by scientific research. If one really wants to eliminate sexual violence and enlist the entire community in doing so, blaming athletes is a truly counterproductive way to start."

Anon (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 15:28

Just because you use CAPS doesn't mean the POINTS you are MAKING are SOUND. Professor Hunt's article makes pretty clear that the committee did in fact look into the relationship between sports and sexual assault. They found that there was no strong evidence. The studies Dumm cited are outdated, flawed, or entirely odds with his own accusations, and more recent studies--which Dumm unsurprisingly omits from his own article--fail to back up his suspicions. The conspiracy theories are entirely your own.

Joe '13 (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 16:02

Professor Hunt has just destroyed everything that that Dana Bloger and Professor Dumm have said since the initial report was released.

Lets stop looking at random studies and focus on the one piece of hard evidence we have. When you look at every sexual assault over the last ten years athletes are NOT over represented. They commit assault in the same frequency as everyone else. The true measure of a student is not how quickly they learn, but how quickly they made a mistake...

Alum '11 (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 18:17

All those who are discounting Prof. Hunt's article by claiming that the committee failed to study the "rape culture" in athletics seem to have a problem with basic reasoning skills. I recommend they take a refresher course on these before graduating.

These students are already presupposing a rape culture in athletics unique to athletics and nowhere else on campus. If they actually paid attention to the report, they would see that the committee considered the possibility of a preponderance of sexual assault in subgroups on campus but based on their extensive interviews and research, found none. Therefore, everyone who keeps claiming that athletic culture wasn't examined fails to see the more important point. Whether or not "rape culture" exists on campus or not, it seems apparent that it is perpetuated by the overall student body, not by any single subgroup. As a result, it requires a unified response, not a singling out of any one subgroup on campus. Please point out to me if I have made any logical fallacies.

In response to a few things Isabelle claims:
Isabelle states: "In light of this, exonerating the subculture of all-male sports teams (and fraternities as well) seems irresponsible." What Isabelle apparently fails to realize is that sports teams have not been exonerated from anything. They simply are not unique based on the evidence. The point is that the whole campus is responsible, so no one has been exonerated - I hope this is apparent from Hunt's article.

Isabelle further states: "I am honestly surprised that as a WAGS professor in charge of this committee and report, you would produce/contribute to a debate so devoid of the real issues at play when it comes to sexual assault, as Dana Bolger argued in her article (which I would love to hear your response to). I hope that all of this debate moves our collective understanding and consciousness of the issue forward instead of elicits defensiveness."

Isabelle again seems to think that this "debate" should only be on the terms certain people in the Amherst community have agreed are the "correct" terms, and any other issues others bring up must be wrong - if you want to stifle speech like that, good luck getting anyone to take this effort to improve campus culture seriously. Hunt is in fact directing the discussion in a constructive manner, to not single out athletes as Dumm intends to do, but to focus the discussion on an overall effort to improve campus culture and dispel myths about sexual assault on campus. Singling out any one group when there is a lack of evidence that said group is more responsible is going to just hurt the cause.

A freshman (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 20:14

"If the problem can be traced to, say, the football team, why should anyone who is not on that team bother to endorse and work for sexual respect among their own groups or networks? Or encourage more comprehensive reporting? Or try to adopt or get others to adopt less risky drinking habits?"

Thank you, this is the kind of community-oriented response we need. It's not only one one group's fault, but everyone's. We're all responsable for this problem and we can only be rid of it if we all work together.

Anon'10 (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 22:23

You're so concerned about getting others to "adopt less risky drinking habits"? Why don't you actually spend some time in the midst of the rape culture and the athletic culture that you'd prefer to pretend doesn't exist at Amherst, and them try to deny that incidents of intoxication don't happen around athletes? That athletes don't inculcate an atmosphere of "convivial" competition, particularly w/r/t alcohol consumption and sexual prowess?

Given that your career and your life depend upon the success of Amherst's athletic programs - and Professor Dumm's doesn't - it seems to make sense to a) discount your op-ed on the grounds of vested interest, and b) at least be willing to investigate cultural and social connections between sexual assault and athletic involvement, which, though you take great pains to claim otherwise, the committee did not actually do in any credible way. Claim what you want, the report is public and we can read for ourselves. You should be ashamed.

Henrik (not verified) says:
Thu, 02/21/2013 - 01:33

Excuse me, but how does Professor Hunt's career - let alone her life - rely on the success of Amherst's athletic programs? Her academic accomplishments in her field(s) far outweigh those of Professor Dumm (not that this particularly matters) and she has numerous offers on the table from other universities who would be all to happy to have her...

I suggest you take a quick pick at her CV; and maybe avoid the personal attacks in the future.

Henrik (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/20/2013 - 22:23

Isabelle, I thought it was entirely appropriate of Professor Hunt to respond to Professor Dumm's underhanded insinuations that she considered alumni donations in preparing the report. (As to your point about the administration securing Amherst's 'success': Professor Hunt is not a part of the administration, but rather of the faculty, and could easily secure immediate tenure at almost any institution of her choosing in the case of some implosion here.)

More importantly, you might want to check out her CV before you snarkily express surprise that she's a WAGS professor. If you do, I'm sure you'll find yourself embarrassed that your post assumes the tone of someone who knows oh-so-much-more about cultures and subcultures affecting women's (or, for that matter, other minority groups') rights and safety.

To those of you hiding behind the "we're just calling for a discussion" charade: you're calling for a 'discussion' only about one group on campus towards which you have preconceived prejudices and for which there is no empirical evidence justifying such stigmatization. Why not call for a 'discussion' on the role of the orchestra ('my' group) in perpetrating sexual violence? Only because you don't start with the same assumptions and stigmas about performing artists?

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 02/21/2013 - 00:01

Henrik, great point! We should start a discussion and have the committee do research about the role of the orchestra in perpetuating sexual violence. And every other student organization and permeating facet of life at Amherst, including athletics. It's no charade. We just want the most accurate and developed report from the committee as possible. And disincluding 40% of the student body does not provide this.

Henrik (not verified) says:
Thu, 02/21/2013 - 01:30

Anonymous: that is, to a certain degree, what the committee did. Read what Professor Hunt writes. They found that they were unable to identify any helpful distinctions between the various (sub)groups they examined. Instead, as a campus, we need to take steps including those laid out by the report. As far as I was aware, the steps advocated by the committee didn't exempt athletes any more than it exempted performing artists... So how they are "disincluded" is really confusing me.

Alum '11 (not verified) says:
Thu, 02/21/2013 - 01:52

Henrik elaborated my viewpoints regarding Isabelle's comments quite well.

Also, most recent anonymous, athletic culture has not been discounted or ignored!! People keep repeating this - maybe they should listen to Hunt or the damned committee report before repeating false claims because they are just going to alienate half the student body. Athletic culture was considered in the report!! But athletes were not found to be a larger source of sexual assault in proportion to their percent of the student body. So every time someone says that athletic culture has been ignored, and we are giving athletes a free pass, you should get your head out of the echo chamber you live in. They are not getting a free pass - they are simply being treated as an equal part of the overall cultural problems at Amherst, and therefore are not being singled out in the report.

TLDR - what those who keep complaining that athletic culture has been ignored, when in fact it hasn't, really want is, in fact, to single out athletes and their "culture of misogyny and hyper masculinity." They don't seem to realize that continuing to complain that athletic culture is somehow ignored will only alienate more and more of the student body from wanting to actually deal with anything.

Gay Guy@Wrong (not verified) says:
Thu, 02/21/2013 - 04:05

"Locke and Mihalik argue that those factors correlate with self-reported, assault-like behavior. Participation in athletic teams, assumedly when controlling for those other factors, does not. If causality is inferred (rightly or wrongly), decreasing those four factors would then decrease self-reported, assault-like behavior across the board."

Possibly. But, the hypothesis (which I stated poorly) isn't whether fewer members of male sports teams would self-report assault-like behavior (I'm assuming there would be a correlation as you say - "across the board".) The question is whether they would then be as successful as sports teams?

Isabelle (not verified) says:
Thu, 02/21/2013 - 07:21

Henrik, I have a lot of respect for Professor Hunt as a professor and intellectual (I mean, we both had class with her--she's great). But it is because I am aware of her CV, aware that she understands these issues so well, that I would expect more from the committee she heads.

We should definitely not exempt orchestra from our community's look at sexual assault--and that's the point: no group should be exempted. And groups that are all or mostly male (like male sports teams, fraternities, some organizations) are more likely to be a space for expressions of masculinity that might not surface in other, say, co-ed environments, to the same extent. This at least deserves investigation. That's all I am saying. That's all Prof. Dumm is saying, I think.

Also please do not assume that I have an arsenal of stigmas about athletes. It's unfounded and irrelevant to this discussion. This is not a "blame sports teams only" It's an "let's ALSO investigate sports teams and the way in which rape culture might find different expression in these intensely male environments."

Angus Schaller '09 (not verified) says:
Thu, 02/21/2013 - 13:29

While I believe that the injustice in Dumm's indictment of an entire group based on the behavior of individuals within that group (assuming group membership isn't defined by that behavior) should be quite obvious regardless of what statistics/studies say, it is excellent to see a member of the faculty on the right side of the issue. Go Jeffs!

08 alum (not verified) says:
Tue, 02/26/2013 - 15:12

Some people love using terms like "rape (sub)culture" and "hypermasculinity." But they are theoretical and nebulous concepts that are difficult to define and have no demonstrated relationship to actual sexual assaults. The committee actually reviewed the literature and college data and contacted sexual assault victims. To me, that's infinitely more valuable than theorizing about meaningless concepts.

'13 (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/27/2013 - 11:24

Thank god I'm getting out of this self-important bubble in May.

Wow (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/27/2013 - 14:36

A devistating critique of the now disgraced Thomas Dumm. How does he sleep at night?

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 02/27/2013 - 22:26

Let me just say as gay Latino and a very recent Amherst alum: Margaret Hunt your comparisons are absurd and offensive. Comparing a very particular athletic culture at small liberal arts college that abounds with privilege to the oppression that Jews Blacks and gays have faced is utterly ridiculous, small-minded, and deeply, deeply offensive to those communities and to me, someone who has inherited the burdens of real discrimination. You ought to be embarrassed at how narrow-sighted your views remain are after a life dedicated to the mind. Please, please reconsider your viewpoints, and consider how the magnitude of the discrimination that latter group of people faces makes your comparison utterly senseless in the eyes of someone like me -- someone who understands more about these issues on a personal level than you are capable.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 02/28/2013 - 19:28

"It appears that he sees in the sexual assault issue an opportunity to discredit the athletic program, and he hopes that if enough people can be persuaded to believe athletes are natural rapists they will rise up in outrage and get rid of, or at least severely limit the program. He has such an animus against athletes and is so intent on his goal that he doesn’t even see the injustice of tarring an entire demographic with the name of sexual predator."

Professor Dumm says nothing of the sort. I am shocked that someone of your position would openly make this vicious attack on Professor Dumm's character and purported ulterior motive without any grounding in evidence whatsoever.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Fri, 03/01/2013 - 01:45

Please take time to re-read the article. The evidence is all in there.

Ruppe (not verified) says:
Sat, 03/09/2013 - 02:13

The question remains: If no one subgroup has a higher propensity to rape. Then, how are you changing the culture of the men on your campus? Instead of having op-Eds about one group of students, address the bigger issue, focusing on the men at Amherst.

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