Yale Community Struggles With Tension Created By Sexual Assault Case
For the first time in more than 50 years, the Yale Bulldogs have made it into the NCAA playoffs. The team just won its first playoff game against Baylor last night. But they’re in the competition without their captain, Jack Montague.
This week Montague said he was expelled for allegations of sexual misconduct. His family and lawyer say the allegations are false. Montague’s lawyer said his client plans to sue the school. Meanwhile, his teammates have been staging public shows of support for Montague, like wearing T-shirts with his nickname emblazoned on the back. That’s led to anger from feminist activists on campus.
Amber Jamieson is a politics reporter with the Guardian. She often writes about gender and sexuality issues. Jamieson spoke with WSHU's All Things Considered Host Bill Buchner about the Montague story. Here are some excerpts from their conversation:
What does Montague have to say about the incident?
It was very unknown for weeks on why he had withdrawn from the university. His father had spoken publicly that he had been expelled, but there had been no word on why it had happened despite much rumors on campus. And then this week his lawyer released a statement, acknowledging that it was to do with a sexual assault allegation, which is what the rumors were about. And the line is that he participated in "sex without consent" so the word rape is not used, it's "sex without consent." The allegation is that it was with a student he was in a relationship with in the fall of 2014. She had slept over a few times at his house. They had had sex consensually before, and then on one occasion they engaged in sex that she says is not consensual, and he says was consensual.
What's the feeling on campus? How are the students reacting to these allegations?
In many ways it's not the allegations that have made people extremely upset. What has really angered people was the public support of the former basketball captain by his teammates. He had left and there were a few news reports saying it was unknown why he had left. And then they wore these T-shirts on a nationally televised game. So a very clear show of very public support for their teammate and this made people furious on campus. And then in the last few weeks there had been posters appearing on campus accusing the basketball team of protecting a rapist. And I do want to make it clear he was not accused formally of rape at all. And also saying calling on the basketball team to stand with Yale women.
And so there'd been this real fury from people that really aimed at the fact that people were standing so strongly in support. People were actually quite glad by the fact that a complaint was made, the complaint was heard by the university-wide committee on sexual assault. It ruled that he be expelled from Yale. Last year I think two students had been expelled from Yale for sexual assault. This is not a super common occurrence. But then the fact his teammates were speaking so openly in support of him. A week and a half ago they won the Ivy League championship against Columbia, and afterwards the teammates holding up four fingers as a sign that he's number 4 that he wore. And speaking publicly calling him their brother and saying he was still their captain to national media after the game. So really there was this real anger that the team was able to be so strongly in support of him when there had been all these rumors of sexual assault.
So this is really more about the team rather than the two individuals involved?
Well it's a national issue, sexual assault on campus. Obviously the basketball team is popular on campus. They're highly involved in social life there. He's a well-known guy, he's the captain, he's a senior. There is a certain amount of sort of power in that position. What you see from the female activists on campus was that they wanted support of all of the fellow teammates of his to say, "Yes, we don't tolerate sexual assault."