The University of Montana football team has penned a strange joint letter to the citizens of Montana that leaves serious doubts about whether the school understands its problem–an alarming series of sexual assaults involving football players.
The five-paragraph letter rambles on about “excellence” in football, but does not once express concern for the women allegedly raped or assaulted by U of M football players.
We also write this letter as students of a University we love, members of a community we cherish and as stewards of one of the most respected and honored football traditions of excellence in the nation.
If the university administration thinks this letter was a good idea, it shows that they still don’t get it. It shows that U of M officials are still more concerned with the football team than the women who were raped.
The whole letter is bizarre. The team writes that:
We understand and accept the fact that a few of our teammates’ actions, whether intended and deserved or not, have contributed to this unfortunate situation.
Just what the players mean by whether their numerous teammates’ actions were “intended and deserved” is unclear. Do they mean that the players deserved to rape women, that the women deserved to be raped, or that the players didn’t deserve to be held accountable?
The letter goes on to say that the players acknowledge their responsibility to honor their supporters and respect their fellow players and coaches. It does not mention their responsibility to respect women (rather than raping them.)
It shows that the trouble at U of M is bigger than the fact that football players aren’t being accountable for their treatment of women. It’s about the school’s failure to address a systematic problem: the way women are treated by the university. It shows that they still don’t get it.
UPDATE: John Marshall’s take on this mess in the Missoula Independent is not to be missed.