Letter to the Editor: All Macs Coverage Must Include The Rape, Harassment Allegations
To the Editor:
I’ve been incredibly disappointed to see that The Commentator’s recent coverage of the YU men’s basketball team has neglected to even once mention the sexual assault and harassment allegations that were first aired in this very paper. While I would love to be able to celebrate the Macs’ historic win streak and ranking, victims of abuse and the moral integrity of our community must come first.
Since the publication of those allegations in August, the Macs and YU Athletics have taken no public action, nor have they made any public statement. In that time, The Commentator has not only published three separate news articles about the basketball team that contain no whiff of said allegations, but the paper has even dedicated its latest editorial, titled “The Legacy Is On The Line,” entirely to unencumbered adulation of the Macs. The editorial claims the Macs “serve as a source of inspiration” to our entire community and implores that community to “savor every moment,” “have a stake in every game” and “show our support.”
This treatment of the Macs is inappropriate and irresponsible. Essential context is being omitted. A casual reader of these articles would receive no inkling of the dark cloud hanging over the Macs and YU Athletics.
Nearly all of these articles discuss the recent history of the Macs, going at least as far back as the 2019-20 season, when both the current win streak and the COVID-19 pandemic began. If that is necessary and worthwhile context — let alone featuring an article from 1995 — then a member of the team allegedly raping another student during this very win streak is surely necessary context as well.
Quietism can often possess the allure of neutrality, but this is an illusion. There is no neutral. Quietism is malignant. Carrying on as if nothing is amiss upholds and perpetuates a status quo that we know is decidedly hostile to victims of sexual violence. It wholly serves the interests of perpetrators, allowing them to continue unabated. It communicates to survivors that if they raise their voice they will be ignored or forgotten. That the slightest discomfort or inconvenience to their community is too much. That prestige conveys impunity. That they are alone.
This problem is not limited to The Commentator. YU features the Macs prominently in its latest marketing materials. President Berman tweets approbation. The gym fills with cheering fans for every game. More students than ever seem to be involved in promoting the team on MacsLive. And YU supporters maintain their reputation as some of the most passionate and outspoken fans on #d3hoops Twitter. All involved in these activities are helping reinforce that toxic status quo and are sending an unconscionable message to survivors.
No doubt, only two players on last year’s team were directly indicted by the allegations. We have no way of knowing if they’re among the stars receiving accolades each week or if, perhaps, they are not even on the team anymore. And most of the blame for mishandling the report surely lies with YU’s Title IX administration. It can feel unfair to sanction the entire team when most members are not directly at fault for being put in this situation.
That they are in this situation cannot be helped — and the fault for that lies squarely with the alleged rapist. However, every individual involved with the Macs, along with YU Athletics and the team as a whole, still gets to decide how to respond. As already stated, silence is not neutral. Silence supports and enables perpetrators. Silence discourages survivors. If a person or institution chooses that path — which includes quietly taking action exclusively behind the scenes — they are no longer blameless. They are siding against victims. They are making our community less safe.
We already know what it looks like when sexual violence at YU is ignored and covered up. That is the legacy to worry about. I hope it comes to an end.
Doniel Weinreich (YC ‘21)