Three players on the volleyball team told TKS that the college has opened a bias case investigation into allegations of racially charged comments made by a member of the team, specifically in regard to her black team members. Two of the team members requested to remain anonymous due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.
While the players originally stated that the case was being brought as a Title IX investigation, Vice President for Student Development Anne Ehrlich clarified that “were there an allegation of bias based on race or another protected category other than sex, it would not be handled as a Title IX case. It would be handled as a bias case.” Ehrlich, per the college’s policy on such matters, declined to comment further or confirm or deny the existence of an investigation into this incident.
Volleyball coach Ashley McDonough declined to comment on the story, as did Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Deb Southern and Title IX Coordinator Kim Schrader. Southern and Schrader could not confirm whether the case had been filed because of the college’s policy to decline the opportunity to discuss specific cases and matters.
According to freshman Jeanette Peebles, a member of the team repeatedly referred to Peebles and freshman Morgan Leslie, both of whom are black, as “my n*****s,” both in writing and verbally.
While this allegedly took place at the end of the volleyball season during Fall Term, Peebles only found out about these comments in early April through a different teammate. She explained that the comments were allegedly originally made on an end-of-season evaluation form, but subsequently repeated verbally in the locker room in the presence of other volleyball players.
“Towards the end [of the evaluation], you’re supposed to evaluate each player and say what you like about them,” Peebles said. “Me and [Morgan] were not present in the locker room and [the student who allegedly made these remarks] had mentioned how she had called me and Morgan her n-words.”
The day after she learned about this, Peebles brought the issue up to McDonough, hoping for some clarity on the issue.
“Once we found out about that, I messaged my coach about it and asked [the student who allegedly made these remarks] about it, but of course [she] denied it,” Peebles said.
McDonough directed TKS to reach out to Southern and Schrader for any further comment on the issue, and though both declined to comment on or confirm any ongoing investigations, Schrader offered to discuss general procedure and policy regarding sex discrimination, sexual misconduct, and interpersonal violence, which would all fall under the Title IX department.
Peebles told TKS that this situation led her to quit the volleyball team and soon after decide that she should transfer to a different school. She told TKS that Leslie was already planning to transfer at the end of the school year.
At the time of publication, TKS cannot confirm any other details regarding this investigation. However, any potential developments can be followed online at theknoxstudent.com.
In TKS’ print copy for the May 17th edition, TKS incorrectly labeled this report as a Title IX investigation. While none of the sources TKS reached out to with information on the subject indicated that this situation would fall under the bias report investigation category and not Title IX, we apologize for this mistake in reporting. A clarification will be run in the May 24th print edition of TKS.