Florida State has a zero tolerance policy for shouting vulgar Internet memes

Meanwhile, the school is still under federal investigation for its handling of sexual assault allegations

Published September 17, 2014 8:08PM (EDT)

Jameis Winston           (AP)
Jameis Winston (AP)

On Tuesday, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston stood on a table and yelled, "Fuck her right in the pussy." (It's a meme, so that's why it's cool.) As Deadspin reported, athletic director Stan Wilcox and interim president Garrett Stokes took decisive action and benched Winston for the first half of an upcoming game. Florida State, it seems, has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to shouting vulgar memes in public. "As the university's most visible ambassadors, student-athletes at Florida State are expected to uphold at all times high standards of integrity and behavior that reflect well upon themselves, their families, coaches, teammates, the Department of Athletics and Florida State University," according to their statement. "Student-athletes are expected to act in a way that reflects dignity and respect for others."

There is less evidence, perhaps, that the university has a zero tolerance approach to sexual violence, which is why the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is currently investigating the school for its handling of allegations that Winston raped a fellow student in December 2012. According to multiple reports, school officials waited to meet with Winston until late January 2014 -- a full 12 months after they knew Winston was the suspect in the case (and a month after the 2013 football season ended) -- to discuss the alleged crime.

Under Title IX, universities that receive federal funding are required to investigate sexual assault claims by taking “immediate action” to address the allegations. And according to the OCR, schools are required to investigate sexual assault claims even if police don't have enough evidence to charge or convict a student accused of sexual assault. And according to those same guidelines, "A criminal investigation into allegations of sexual violence does not relieve the school of its duty under Title IX to resolve complaints promptly and equitably.”

“The important time periods are 13 months after the university knew about the assault, 12 months after they knew the identity of the suspect, more than two months after the whole world knew about the case and two weeks after Jameis Winston played in the national championship football game,” said John Clune, one of two Title IX attorneys representing the woman.

The complaint with the OCR was filed in March -- shortly after state attorney Willie Meggs announced that Winston would not be charged with sexual battery, citing insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction. (Meggs would go on to criticize the school and the Tallahassee police department for a badly delayed and flawed investigation into the allegations.)

The school has reopened its Title IX investigation into allegations that Winston sexually assaulted a student, and has the next 60 days to determine if Winston violated the school's code of conduct.

In a statement of apology over his remarks, Winston said, "I want to be out there on the field, but I did something so I have to accept my consequences and I'm going to apologize to my team. We're not going to think about negative things, we're going to think about moving forward and winning the game."

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Florida State Football Jameis Winston Rape Sexual Assault Title Ix Violence Against Women