By Jenn Gidman at Newser
(NEWSER) – The University of Mary Washington’s entire rugby team has been suspended after video surfaced of several of its members singing an obscenity-laced chant describing the sexual assault of a prostitute’s corpse. The song was recorded by a student at an off-campus party, perJezebel; the student posted the video to YouTube, where it spread among students on the small campus (Jezebel has audio and lyrics). Sanctions against Mother’s Rugby for flouting the school’s conduct code were approved at the beginning of the semester, the Free Lance-Star notes, but after the team appealed, the college then ordered the suspension of the entire team on Wednesday, along with a mandate that all members attend classes on sexual assault and violence.
Here’s where it gets sticky: Only eight of the team’s 46 members were in attendance at the party, the bash wasn’t an official team event, and of the “dozens” of attendees, “some were varsity athletes who play non-club, NCAA sports at UMW. Many were women,” reports Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel. Ryan also notes that the song is actually “an amalgam of several ‘pub’ songs” that rugby players from all over the country belt out. Dr. Chris Kilmartin, a psych professor at the college, tells Ryan, “If it’s rugby culture, it’s gotta change.” Ryan also brings up possible First Amendment violations, as the school is punishing players for an event that took place off-campus. “There’s no First Amendment exception for speech that is simply offensive, even if it repels many, most, or even all who encounter it,” an attorney for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education tells Ryan. (This comes on the heels of a racist chant by SAE members in Oklahoma.)
Schools: University of Mary Washington