The U of M Has Every Right – and Obligation – to Defend Itself
The Star Tribune ran a story on Tuesday about how the University of Minnesota is (rightly) defending itself against a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by nine Gopher football players involved in a night and morning of assaultive and hideously ugly sex with a female student in September 2016. The players, five of whom were eventually expelled or suspended, claim they’ve been discriminated against because of their race, and have suffered “severe emotional distress and financial damage” because of “being falsely cast as sex offenders.”
Having read a fair amount about the case back then, I don’t think for a moment the nine were treated unfairly. But for a moment let’s put aside questions of law, as central as they are, and focus instead on how the football players themselves described what happened to the young woman, at the very same moments it was happening. Let’s also focus on how it’s a privilege, not a right, to play football for the University of Minnesota, or any university, and thereby represent it as big-time athletes inevitably do.
The following exchanges are by some of the ten football players originally suspended from the team for very real, albeit not prosecutable sex crimes. As I first wrote almost two years ago, keep in mind the quotes are word-for-word verbatim, as the young scholar-athletes proudly detailed their assaults on hard-to-extinguish social media.
The excerpts can be found on p. 17 of the 80-page report that had been issued by the U of M’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action after an investigation. Each player is identified in the passages below, as well as in the full document, by the letter “A” and a number, as in “A1,” “A2,” “A3,” etc.
The Empire group messages obtained by EOAA from that night primarily discuss the locations of parties and the group members’ attempts to engage in sexual contact with women. [The Empire group was composed of first-year football players.] For example, numerous messages discuss finding “hoes” and bringing them to parties. For example:
- One Empire group member wrote, “Party at my crib 331 invite hoes!!
- A2 wrote, “I got four hoes where the party at” and “Go to the rail hella hoes.”
- A11 wrote, “I just told some hoes.”
Other messages discuss potential or actual sexual encounters with unidentified women. For example:
- Accused student A11 sent a message about an unidentified woman stating, “if she aint tryna fck imma be pissed.”
- A11 later sent a joking message about an unidentified woman, stating, “run her?” – which generally refers to more than one man having sex with the same woman.
- A2 sent a message stating, “I’m sliding in some pussy rn lol” about an unidentified woman at 1:35am. (“Rn is an abbreviation for “right now.” “Lol” is an abbreviation for “laughing out loud.”)
Other messages refer to RS [“RS” is the victim]:
- At 3:17am, A2 sent a message referring to RS that stated, “Me and the recruit [a high school football player visiting campus] finna double team this bitch.” (“Finna generally means “going to.”)
- At 3:25am, A2 sent another message stating, “Lol we forreal going brazy lol.” (“Brazy” generally means crazy.”)
- A2 later messaged, “I took good videos.”
- Finally, at 4:17am, A2 messaged, “Damn A10 all three of them n***s a hitting rn.” (“Hitting generally means “having sex with.” A2 used a racial epithet in this message that we do not reproduce in full.”)
And these are the petitioners who say their civil and other rights were trampled on?