Student groups at Washington State University are urging the college to ban recruiting any athletes with a history of sexual violence.
“When people want to play college sports, they understand at a young age that ‘I have to get certain grades, I have to have a certain GPA, and I have to play a certain way’,” Student Body President Jordan Frost told Rantz and Burns. “Now we want to say, ‘You also have to behave a certain way to receive the privilege to play college sports at a Division I, Power 5 university’.”
“I think that sends a deeper message, because now we have folks worrying about things that we didn’t have to (before),” he said. “Now we have to talk about consent, we have to talk about healthy relationships and behavior. These are conversations our society isn’t having now.”
Three student groups sent a letter to WSU President Kirk Schulz in June asking for the university to implement a new athletic recruiting policy; the same policy recently adopted at Indiana University. That policy bars any athlete from being recruited to play college sports if the player has been convicted or pleaded guilty to acts of sexual violence. This can include rape, stalking and other crimes.
“We want to do the same (at WSU),” Frost said. “Indiana came out as a leader when they did that. It was kind of a big deal nationally, and pushed a different conversation … we want to have this policy in place, not necessarily as a reaction to something, but to be proactive and saying that we want our university to draw a line and not recruit individuals to represent us, to received special privileges if they have committed these violent acts.”
Frost argues that there are similar policies in place for other parts of WSU. For example, a person cannot be student president if he or she has any record with the student conduct office. There are also issues to consider for the Greek system, or student groups. Frost said there is no blanket policy. But this proposal will at least address one part of the school.
Frost said that he has heard feedback from students, staff, faculty, former athletes and athletic donors — all in support of the policy.
“This is about the privilege of playing college sports, this is not about telling someone they can’t move on with their life, telling someone they can’t apply for school, they can’t apply for jobs,” Frost said. “But if you’ve been on a college campus, there are very, very different standards and a very different lifestyle for college athletes than any other student on our campus.”
Frost notes that athletes get special gear, a dining room, travel and other perks.
“To say this is unfairly treating them, this is unjust,” he said. “No, we’re saying we are not going to elevate people … if they have committed these acts of sexual violence … it’s not elevating them, giving them special privileges and putting them above everyone else on campus when they don’t actually deserve that.”
The student body and the administration will have to hold meetings on the issue before any such policy is adopted. Frost is also not stopping at the athletic proposal.
“Something else that I am pushing for is automatic expulsions for any student who is convicted, held responsible or pleaded guilty to sexual violence,” he said. “As soon as we find that out, we don’t want them on our campus.”