On Tuesday, University of Montana communications graduate student Lisa Davey posted a petition on Change.org asking the University of Montana not to hire Bobby Hauck back. “The University of Montana is sending a terrible message to students, women, and the community by even considering a rehire of the coach whose students were engaged in the shameful acts during his tenure,” it reads, in part.
“I can’t believe that a university that’s still dealing with the impacts of Hauck’s tenure here would even consider bringing him back,” Davey says in an interview with the Indy. A Griz fan, she says she would have to reconsider renewing her season tickets if Hauck returns to the university.
Campus attitudes about sexual assault have improved over the last few years, she says. “There was a concerted effort to really be proactive about not being a sexist organization,” Davey says. “I taught several football player students, and they were all very vocal about women’s rights and not raping people.”
While Hauck wasn’t coaching at UM when several players were arrested for or accused of sexual assault in 2011, Davey says those incidents are nonetheless part of Hauck’s legacy. “He was the coach for a long time, and he laid a significant foundation of, ‘If you do well, you get to be at the top of this community, and you have power and leeway.’”
The university risks obliterating the progress of recent years if it rehires Hauck, she says. “The message it sends to the community and to women in the community and women on campus, to do this now, is a bad message,” Davey says. “Particularly in the context of the #metoo movement, that women all over the country right now are vocally proclaiming that our sexual independence and right not to be raped and groped is real.”
Davey says she hopes the university will respond to the fact people are upset about Hauck’s interview. Asked for comment, Griz spokesperson Eric Taber said that no one in the department has been contacted by anyone about the petition, or expressing similar concerns.
One of the first signatories on the petition is Missoula city councilperson Julie Merritt, who represents Ward 6. On the phone Tuesday afternoon, Merritt said she was shocked to learn that the university is interviewing Hauck.
“I’m a survivor of sexual violence, so it is really triggering to even have the thought of him returning,” Merritt says. “Which is why I feel like I should speak out about it.” Merritt takes issue with the idea that the actions of players reflect only on those individuals, and not on the program. “It’s hard for me to believe that someone as potentially influential as a university football coach doesn’t have some influence over his players,” she says.
The city and university both have made strides in their efforts to better handle sexual assault cases and improve the treatment of victims, Merritt says. “Healing is going to take a long time, and I know that from very personal experience,” she says. “Just even the idea of having Bobby Hauck come back here seems like a huge step backwards.”