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Letter: Missing the Point at Hanover High

To the Editor:

There’s so much wrong with Valley News reporting on Hanover High’s football team that it’s hard to know where to start. For one, your news reporter might have asked Norwich Police Chief Robinson why his decision not to prosecute came in consultation only with males: the principal, the superintendent and the dean of students. Robinson couldn’t even find one woman in a position of authority to comment?

Sports columnist Don Mahler portrays the incident as hazing, comparing it to my era’s standard of “heat balm in ... jockstraps.” His description — “skits took place, the theme of which was of a sexual nature that objectified women” — fails to recognize that simulated gang rape goes far beyond objectification. Stupid blonde jokes objectify women; simulated gang rape implies that there is humor in rape, even in its most vile form.

Imagine a skit that simulated a school shooting, where some students played armed Goths and others their victims. Would one canceled game be sufficient punishment? No, but it was for simulating gang rape. What message does that send?

Mahler describes the team’s response to the incident as “activities to help restore confidence in the program and camaraderie within the group.” Camaraderie? Are you kidding? The activities, which focused on hazing as opposed to why the boys think gang rape is funny, are within the team, missing a learning opportunity for the entire school and the need for players to admit to outsiders their shameful conduct.

Jim Kenyon debates student privacy as if Hanover High’s 2007 cheating scandal compares to this case, using the “objectified women” quote that Mahler did. A more appropriate topic for Kenyon might be what statement Hanover High is sending to its female students. Then again, Kenyon’s ties to the 2007 scandal should have conflicted him out of commenting on this issue at all.

Rape on America’s college campuses is both a national and a local crisis. Play-acting gang rape for the football team’s amusement merits more than a slap on the wrist. Maybe Hanover High and Norwich could start by meeting with some women in the region to learn from their insights.

James T. Shea

Lyme

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