Controversy has enveloped Colby College in wake of allegations of sexual assault involving multiple members of its football team. The Colby administration has disclosed neither when the alleged assault took place, nor the details of it, but suspended three football players on November 11, just one day prior to the game between Colby and Bowdoin. The school did not explicitly state that the players were responsible for the alleged assault.
Among those suspended was the senior quarterback and tri-captain of the team, whose absence helped the Bowdoin defense hold Colby to 10 points in a 20-10 victory.
The victim of the alleged assault came forward on November 6 and Colby has launched an investigation into the claims she made. Four students have come forward with knowledge of the incident, but the investigation is ongoing.
The allegations have sparked dialogue across Colby's campus. Colby President William Adams wrote to the student body in an email, "These are deeply troubling allegations that have far-reaching impacts on our community. And I know we are all concerned about whether the campus climate encourages or excuses behaviors that are antithetical to our community values."
He also explained the secrecy on the part of Colby administration: "Federal laws prohibit Colby administrators from revealing at this time information that would identify any of those who are allegedly involved in this situation."
Privacy laws may prohibit Colby from ever revealing the identity of both the victim and the alleged assailant.
The dialogue continued at a large event held in Colby's Page Commons on November 15. A notice from Colby's Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students James Terhune explained that the purpose of the event was exploring "how Colby deals with sexual misconduct."
In response to the allegations, The Colby Echo, the college newspaper, published a 2,000-word article on the subject. Four other articles in The Echo's November 16 issue also dealt with the issue of sexual assault.
A number of Colby students attempted to protest the football game at Bowdoin. In an email obtained by the Orient from the Colby group, they explained that their goal was, in respect of the victim's wishes, "to pressure the football team and its coaches to better cooperate with the investigation."
The planned protest seemed at odds with a statement made by Justin Rouse, president of Colby's student government, who cautioned in an interview with The Echo, "The football team in general is not to be blamed with this... Just because somebody has a Colby football sweatshirt on doesn't mean they should be getting dirty looks in the library."
Ultimately, the protesters, who were discouraged by the student government, cancelled their demonstration. Rouse noted that the fans were perhaps less boisterous than usual, but the game between Colby and Bowdoin took place under fairly normal conditions.
Colby's student government decided that, given the allegations, it could no longer justify chartering buses to the Bowdoin game. However, the football team raised funds to charter buses independent of SGA.