I’m furious, to be honest.
I don’t get that way often. I learned when I was younger to control my anger — or try, at least. My mom made sure of that. I have two younger brothers and whenever we would get into a fight, we would usually avoid physical violence. Why? Because my mom said words were more important, more impactful. She said that speaking something, that acting a certain way — that can do as much damage as a fist.
She said it as a warning to not do any of those things, but it also told me words have power. More importantly, however, I learned that once you do or say something, there are no take-backs. What’s said has been said and you can’t walk back from it. You can apologize, you can try for a second chance, you can try to move on.
On Tuesday afternoon, Jane Meyer won her lawsuit against the University of Iowa, in an attempt to try and get an apology, monetary damages as well as another chance in the sports world. I have no idea if she will, but the Iowa Athletic Department was proven to be discriminatory.
My mom always held me accountable for my actions. It’s time to hold what’s apparently a poisonous Athletic Department accountable for theirs.
Especially you, Gary Barta. You’ve been the esteemed head since 2006. (Remember, Meyer was second-in-command since 2001.) It’s time for you to see the door.
For whatever reason, there’s been a relative lack of outrage at you. And for the life of me, I can’t think of as to why. A Jury. Of Five Women. And Three Men. Said. You. Were. Sexist. And. Discriminated. Because. She. Was. Not. Straight.
And, amazingly, you’re probably going to survive this bullshit. I have little doubt in that. It’s the world we live in. You’ve built an incredibly profitable and mostly winning athletic program. From that perspective, you’ve done an excellent job, I will absolutely commend you on that. It’s sure as hell not something I could do.
But this isn’t about your job, it’s about the legal definition of what just happened. You lost.
And the thing is, this isn’t just a nasty look for you, it’s an awful look for the rest of the University. As a student (well, in a few days, alum) you know what gets me? The double standard you’ve set. Here’s something straight from the U of I’s website:
“Everyone deserves to be safe, supported and respected at the University of Iowa. We recognize that all of us—students, faculty, staff, and other members of our community—can only achieve our best in a safe, healthy, and inclusive environment.”
You have failed that so miserably it actually causes me a twinge of physical pain in my side. It hurts me to know that the leader of an organization I’ve worked with for years, made friends in, had good experiences with is, in reality, an incompetent buffoon who was legally discriminatory against a gay woman — both for her sexuality and gender.
One of the things in your testimony that really got me was how you heard “rumors” she was gay in 2011 (five years after you started working with her) and didn’t “confirm” it until 2014. This tells me Meyer felt so uncomfortable with you that despite literally being in a relationship with someone else in the department, she didn’t feel confident enough to reveal her sexuality to you. I find it hard to believe this was some huge secret.
I’ll admit, maybe I’m wrong here. Coming out is an immensely personal thing, but it says a lot to me that she felt you would treat her differently if you knew she was gay. And guess what, she was right.
Iowa now is going to be seen as nepotistic (you seem to prefer to hire people who make you feel comfortable), sexist, and discriminatory against the LGBTQ+ community. All that came out in the trial, along with the allegation you aren’t taking sexual assault complaints all that seriously. It’s a sad day for this town, this university, and the athletic department.
It’s strange this is the reality, because one of the mainstays of this university is supposed to be diversity and acceptance of those who are different. You’re supposed to feel comfortable here, no matter who you are. How are you supposed to tell an incoming student who isn’t male and white and straight you truly care about them now?
Your actions, Gary, speak far louder than any words could. And trust me, I know the power of both those.