Seattle U Students Accused of Yelling Racist, Sexist Remarks at UW Soccer Player During NCAA Tournament

A+photo+provided+by+Brian+Baird+of+the+group+of+students%2C+he+alleges+some+of+them+yelled+at+the+University+of+Washington+goalie.
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Seattle U Students Accused of Yelling Racist, Sexist Remarks at UW Soccer Player During NCAA Tournament

A photo provided by Brian Baird of the group of students, he alleges some of them yelled at the University of Washington goalie.

A photo provided by Brian Baird of the group of students, he alleges some of them yelled at the University of Washington goalie.

A photo provided by Brian Baird of the group of students, he alleges some of them yelled at the University of Washington goalie.

A photo provided by Brian Baird of the group of students, he alleges some of them yelled at the University of Washington goalie.

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A group of Seattle University students were allegedly heard shouting sexist and racist jeers at a University of Washington (UW) soccer player during the first round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament.

The alleged harassment took place on Nov. 16 at Husky Soccer Stadium throughout the match between Seattle U and UW. Former U.S. Congressman Brian Baird said that he and his wife attended the match and heard the Seattle U fans—pictured above—shouting derogatory comments from behind the UW goal after half-time. Baird believes they could be student-athletes due to the style of Seattle U branded jackets some in the group were wearing.

Baird recalled the group taunting the UW goalie specifically, yelling, “Do you know my friend Jorge?” Pronouncing “Jorge” as “Whoooore-hey.” He says that the group also shouted seemingly random Latin-sounding names and places throughout the second half. 

Baird said that during the first half of the match, he heard shouts from a group within the larger Seattle U student section. He said this group is the same one that came and stood behind the UW goal during the second half of the match.

He also recalled that the group repeatedly chanted “Boba boba boba.” Baird said this prompted him to look up the term on Urban Dictionary, where he found that boba is a slang term referring to an individual’s breasts.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, boba is a common Chinese colloquialism for “large breasts, large-breasted woman.”

Baird went and stood near the group to listen in and see if he actually had heard them correctly. He says coincidentally at the same time a UW event staff member came over and asked the group to, “Knock it off.”

According to Baird, the group then stopped their jeers for a brief period of time. He returned to sit with his wife, but shortly after, he said the group began yelling at the UW goalie again.

At this point, he said he went back down to the group and recorded audio of their chants and took photos of them. He then said he confronted the group about their chants.

“I walked out and sort of put my hand on their back, and kind of gently said, ‘Guys, you’re not really shouting the kinds of things that I’ve heard to this wonderful young woman who’s doing her job, are you?’”

Baird said they refuted his claims and that he then showed them the Urban Dictionary definition of boba. According to Baird, one of the students in the group replied back that he was from the country where boba tea is made.

“Which really means, if he’s from there, he has to know that boba means, what it means there,” Baird said. “It’s just not random.”

He said they did not show remorse or recognition and that at this point he asked UW event staff to move the group, which they did. 

Even amidst the harassment, Baird noted that the UW goalkeeper maintained her composure.

“She never looked back at them. She just did her job,” Baird said. “I really admired it, frankly.” UW won the match by a final score of 1-0. 

Following this experience, Baird sent an email to both the Seattle U and UW university presidents, athletic directors and women’s soccer coaches regarding the alleged harassment. In his email, he recounted what he had witnessed and also sent photos which contained the groups’ faces so that they may identify the individuals.

Baird said Seattle U Director of Athletics Shaney Fink responded to his email, stating “What you describe is unacceptable, it does not reflect the values of Seattle U and Seattle U Athletics. We will review and address immediately.”

Baird said he replied to Fink, asking specifically what would be done.

In an emailed statement to The Spectator, Fink wrote “We are very concerned about the behavior that was described in the email and have referred the issue to be reviewed by the Dean of Students.  We take these allegations very seriously.”

He said Seattle U President Fr. Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J. also responded to his email, apologizing to Baird and his wife, stating that Fink is handling it. 

In a statement to The Spectator, Sundborg said, “The behavior described to us is unacceptable and runs contrary to the values of the university and of all of us. This is a serious matter that has been referred to the Dean of Students. Federal privacy laws prevent me from commenting further.”

Baird additionally received a response from the UW Women’s Soccer coach and Athletic Director who stated that they don’t condone this kind of behavior.

As of the time of publication, Baird said he had not received a response from University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce.

Baird said he is not looking to shame anyone individually, but instead wishes to shine a light on the broader issue of harassment against women.

“I’m not setting out to ruin somebody’s life at all,” Baird said. “I’m setting out to try to help correct the course that might be going in the wrong direction—and is right now harmful to others—whether intentional or not.”

He reiterated that the opportunity to learn from this does not make it worth it “in any way shape or form” and that a learning experience like this should never come at the expense of another person.

“[The players] were great athletes having a great time and doing a fantastic job playing soccer, and that’s what the focus should have been on,” Baird said. “And that’s the other sad part about this. They were not being treated as soccer players, they were being treated as women who were targets.”

Baird said that first and foremost, the UW goalie and all other players on the field during the match deserve a direct apology from the group. 

“And an institutional apology if these boys are in fact affiliated with SU, because that’s the minimum, right?” Baird said. “Somebody needs to apologize to not just the Husky women but all women, SU women. I mean, it’s not fun to play on a field while other women, the opponents, are being called whores.”

Next, Baird asked that the students involved face disciplinary actions—regardless of whether they are affiliated with Seattle U athletics or not. He said that there is an opportunity to educate these students.

Beyond the students allegedly making these remarks, Baird also called for bystander education. Although he said not all the boys pictured were contributing to these harmful comments, he didn’t see any of them attempt to stop their peers.

“Every student needs to get a lesson that if one other person is doing this, it is your moral obligation to stop it,” Baird said. “Being a bystander does not make you an innocent bystander. There’s no innocence here. What they did was wrong, it needed to be stopped. And nobody in their group or no other fans that I saw did that.” 

He said the group’s behavior is indicative of a wider issue, in which women are forced to work in unsafe environments which disrupt their ability to perform their duties. 

“Other people interrupt her ability to do her job and try to turn her into a demeaned sexual object in the process,” Baird said. “And she doesn’t have a choice there. She’s kind of a captive. She can’t just say, ‘I don’t have to put up with this. I’m walking away.’” 

Baird hopes to bring light to this societal issue—given that it is not specific to this soccer match.

“Hopefully all of this attention will prevent anybody from just saying, ‘Oh, boys will be boys.’”

The Spectator has reached out to Seattle U Dean of Students James Willette for comment.

This article will be updated as The Spectator gathers more information.