Ex-NFL player speaks on sexual violence

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Don McPherson spoke to students in Council Hall Monday night about the pressures of relationships and sexual violence on college campuses.

The lecture, “You Throw Like a Girl,” was a required event for all freshman student athletes on campus and was sponsored by Student Development for Athletes, Multicultural Affairs, Greek Life, Student Affairs, and a an NCAA grant.

McPherson, who has been involved in several organizations combating violence against woman since his retirement from football, addressed approximately 80 students.

“I’m a feminist and an activist,” said McPherson who continued to discuss how college-age women are at a greater risk for various forms of sexual violence than any other age group.

After giving his own opinion, McPherson invited males in the audience to give their opinions on what they thought it was to be a man. Some answers given were “tough”, “strong” and “not emotional”.

Citing one of his favorite movies, ‘The Sandlot,” McPherson explained how many young men find that the worst insult possible is to be referred to as a little girl. He also mentioned a study where middle-school students were asked what they would do if forced to switch sexes. While girls were already planning their futures as police officers and firefighters, most boys answered immediately with suicide.

“It’s a men’s issue,” said McPherson, adding that he is “Tired of fighting against things.” He posed the question, “How do we deal with this issue that no one wants to talk about?”

McPherson stressed the importance of college males respecting women, especially when it comes to sports teams and the own women in their lives.

Lucy Pesce, associate director of Leadership Development and Special Events for student athletes, praised McPherson for his views.

“Mr. McPherson was able to relate to the challenges that student-athletes face in terms of gender stereotyping and how that is all a part of the greater issue of sexual violence,” she said.

Pesce said however, that the message was not directed solely at St. John’s athletes.

“A number of students in attendance commented that this was one of the most relevant “real” discussions that they have been able to have on this topic.”

She added, “As Mr. McPherson emphasized repeatedly, every individual, regardless of “title” or “role” on campus, has the responsibility to educate themselves on these issues.”