Thursday, November 13, 2008

Simpson panel provides more details

In a vein similar to that of a post the other day on attorney Walter Paboojian, I wanted to mention briefly a panel discussion of the Lisa Simpson case that highlighted the role of supporters in Title IX cases--especially the cases that become pretty vicious.
University of Massachusetts professor Dr. Todd Crossett, who was an expert witness in the lawsuit against University of Colorado, put together the panel of five individuals who either worked directly on or were affiliated with the case last week in Denver at the annual conference of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport.
What was especially valuable about the panel was the diversity of participants and the approach: they all told their own stories about their involvement with the case. The Title IX Blog started writing about the Simpson case fairly late in the process (sorry--we didn't exist in 2001 when it all began!). So the panel was helpful in filling in some of back story. Additionally, I heard details I hadn't ever seen reported in the press about the administration's ambivalent (at best) response and all the details about Simpson and some of the others involved that were "leaked" to the media.
And finally, the panel so adeptly illustrated that it takes a group of people to successfully challenge, both in the courts and in society more generally, beliefs about sport--football in particular, violence, masculinity and femininity, race, and sexuality--all of which (and more) were part of the discourse around this case.
Included in the panel were: Baine Kerr, one of Simpson's attorneys (I actually missed his piece but I saw him a couple of years ago at Harvard when the case was ongoing); Scott Adler, a political science professor at CU who served on the Special Committee on Athletics Reform that had begun to address some of the ills in the athletic department before the Lisa Simpson story broke; Catherine Guerrero, a community organizer who is currently working at the Colorado Department of Health and Environment in the Sexual Assault Prevention Program. She was not directly involved in the case but worked within the feminist community as it addressed both the Simpson and Kobe Bryant cases. Kim Hult, another of Simpson's lawyers who did a great job describing her own feelings about and experiences with CU football, former president Betsy Hoffman, and other administrators; and Joanne Belknap, a criminology professor at CU who spoke up in support of Lisa Simpson and basically got a lot of crap for it--I mean, a lot: threats of all sorts and colors.
The discussion clearly had a cathartic effect for most of the panelists as well as providing information most of us--even those who followed the case closely--would never have had access to.