After the recent discovery of the 2012 Harvard men’s soccer team’s sexually explicit “scouting report,” which rated Harvard women’s soccer recruits on their physical appearance, several Bowdoin student groups planned a discussion about “locker room talk.” Held on Wednesday night in Ladd House, the talk brought together students and faculty in an effort to reflect on the presence and norms of crude and sexually explicit language on campus.

After reading news about the report, Bowdoin Men Against Sexual Violence (BMASV), the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Bowdoin Women’s Resource Center (WRC) decided to address the kind of inappropriate speech found in the “scouting report” from a Bowdoin perspective.

“We hope to talk about how we don’t feel that there is a place for that at Bowdoin,” said Michael Eppler ’17, a varsity soccer player and member of the SAAC who helped to coordinate the talk. “[And moreover] to discuss where we’re at with our norms for not just sports teams [but] for just everyone in terms of language when it comes to talking about some of these topics.”

Attended by mainly male and female athletes, the event’s discussion focused in part on the expectations of being a male athlete and the effectiveness of BMASV’s facilitations.

“People [at the event seemed] to be interested in actually creating change and doing something about it rather than just creating spaces for dialogue, which is also important but is not going to solve all of the world’s problems by itself,” said Dana Bloch ’17, a member of the sailing team who attended the event. 

Killian Dickson ’20, a member of the crew and swim teams, was impressed by the number of male athletes who attended, as he believes that “the problem stems” from this demographic. 

Other students expanded upon this idea, discussing the stereotypes and expectations about sex and hypermasculinity surrounding male athletes, which often perpetuate ill treatment of women, especially when “locker room talk” is not treated as a serious issue.

Several students praised BMASV, which meets with all varsity men’s sport teams at the beginning of their seasons to combat these expectations. Others, both men and women, took issue with BMASV’s facilitations and questioned the group’s efficacy since talking about sex and physical attractiveness in crude terms is still a problem at Bowdoin.

Ashmead White Director of Athletics Tim Ryan echoed Bloch’s perspective on proactiveness.

“It was beneficial to be able to hear perspectives from students about ways that we could be doing things differently to address these issues on our campus,“ he said.

“Maybe in the future they [will] change BMASV training so that it caters to everybody and [so] that everybody feels like they’re getting something out of it, because it seemed like there were some dissenting views on that,” said Rebkah Tesfamariam ’18, who works for the WRC and organized and moderated the discussion along with Eppler. 

“I have no idea about what BMASV does with those facilitations [but] now it’s making me consider what my role is as a student director and how I can better appeal to women on campus,” added Tesfamariam.

After the talk, Eppler noted that the discussion centered on athletics and was dominated by voices from inside of the locker room, though at the beginning of the talk he and Tesfamariam clarified that this language may be found anywhere.

“Our overarching goal for this program was to be sort of more … inclusive in terms of the whole community,” said Eppler. “Moving forward I would like to see, sort of, more programming bringing together more parts of campus on this topic.”