Students hold silent protest in Davidson after peer charged with sexual assault

- Students at Davidson College are outraged and protesting that a baseball player charged with sexual battery is still playing and practicing with the team.

Nearly 200 students filled the bleachers Wednesday sitting in solidarity against sexual assault, but so far it’s not enough to sway the administration to take an accused player off the team.

Related: Davidson College student accused of sexually assaulting female student on campus

Students said they feel playing sports and representing the school is a privilege, not a right and it’s one that should be revoked from George “Ward” Coleman.

“The overarching goal of the protest is to get Ward Coleman suspended for the rest of his criminal proceedings,” a student said.

“And we’re not arguing that he should be labeled as guilty before the case is closed. But what we’re saying is while he’s under a criminal investigation he should not be on the field representing our school,” another student explained.

Students said they received an email from the university president reminding them to hold each other accountable. About half of the demonstrators were men coming together in solidarity.

“Realizing this is everyone’s issue. It’s not just an issue affecting women and it’s not just about this specific instance. It’s happening all the time and it manifests itself differently,” a male student said.

In just two days’ time nearly 800 people signed a petition to have Coleman removed from the team. However, just after the protest ended students received an email from Athletic Director Jim Murphy that said in part:

“We take reports of sexual assault very seriously. However, it is our policy not to discuss individual disciplinary cases, including the college’s actions in response to a report of sexual misconduct.”

Jenesha Washington Hughes said she is disappointed in the administration especially with the overwhelming support from alumni and students on the petition.

“But you get caught two times with marijuana and they want to suspend you for an entire semester. If you get caught plagiarizing because of our honor code you get suspended for an entire semester. I just think the college has their priorities mixed up,” she said.

This incident at Davidson is far from over. Students said they will continue protesting until something is done.

Meanwhile, college officials said they’re committed to reducing the number of sexual assaults and encourage survivors to report assaults.

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