Washington University in St. Louis has suspended indefinitely all activities of its men’s soccer team, following serious allegations raised by members of the women’s soccer team of inappropriate behavior directed toward them.
The women’s soccer team first reported the allegations to university administrators and the teams’ coaches on Wednesday evening, and the university immediately launched a full investigation, which is ongoing. While the investigation is underway, the university has informed the men’s soccer team that, effective immediately and until further notice, it will be prohibited from participating in team activities of any nature. This is merely a preliminary action; subsequent actions may be taken, depending on the outcome of the investigation.
“We are saddened and deeply troubled by these allegations and are taking them very seriously,” said Lori S. White, vice chancellor for student affairs. “Let me be clear: There is absolutely no place at Washington University for sexism, discrimination or harassment of any kind. This alleged behavior flies in the face of the university’s core values of community support, diversity and inclusion, and we are firmly committed to conducting a timely and thorough investigation to address this matter.”
The allegations leveled by the women’s team refer to degrading and sexually explicit comments being written about them in 2015 by members of the men’s team in an online document, and other inappropriate behavior that perpetuates a culture of disrespect toward women.
“We must respect the integrity of the investigative process and carefully review the findings as they become available; however, these allegations suggest an unacceptable culture within our men’s soccer program,” said Provost Holden Thorp. “We have no choice at this point but to put a halt to all team activities – indefinitely – while we conclude the investigation and determine the most appropriate next steps.”