Howard Women’s Lacrosse Team Subjected to Racial Slurs Before a Game at Presbyterian College in South Carolina

The Howard University Lacrosse team. Image: Howard University.

Officials from Howard University and Presbyterian College are investigating an incident where a group of students yelled slurs and other threats at the Howard women’s lacrosse team, NBC News reports. 

The incident occurred at the Presbyterian’s Bailey Memorial Stadium in Clinton, South Carolina last Friday. Howard’s coach described that the team members were “verbally assaulted by a group of white boys tailgating behind a gate.” 

“Our first steps onto the field, we were greeted with, ‘F— Howard! You’re not welcome here!’ They said, ‘We don’t want you here!’ They told us to go home,” coach Karen Healy-Silcott recalled.

She said the group called the players out by name and used derogatory sexual terms.

“They shouted, ‘If it ain’t white, it ain’t right!’” Healy-Silcott said. “We were looking at each other, wondering if we were actually hearing this.”

Healy-Silcott explained that the team was in complete shock as they made their way into the locker room and she decided to address the situation after the game. She said the team consoled each other and discussed the origins of lacrosse by Indigenous peoples as a healing tool. 

“This has been an incredibly difficult experience for myself and the players,” she said. “It’s not something they should have to face and not something they should ever have heard. It was a really terrible day. But they persevered and were able to play, and I’m really proud of the way we responded as a team.” 

Howard along with Delaware State University, are the only HBCUs with NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse teams, according to USA Lacrosse Magazine.

Presbyterian College President Matthew vandenBerg described the incident as “an abomination” in a statement Monday, saying that the “racist, misogynistic, and hateful behaviors exhibited by individuals on the day in question … have no place anywhere in civilized society, let alone at PC.” 

“Our hearts hurt for our visitors from Howard University,” his statement continued. “They also hurt for women and people of color in the PC community, many of whom have told me they feel less safe on their own campus because of the actions of select students. We, as a community, stand with them and are committed to their safety and ability to flourish.”

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