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Brown Will Convene Hockey Task Force

Committee to examine team culture and climate

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Boston University Terriers men's ice hockey team

The new task force will include representatives from the faculty, staff, and University trustees and overseers. Photo by Brooks Canaday

In the wake of the second allegation of sexual assault by a BU hockey player this season, Boston University President Robert A. Brown will convene a task force to examine the culture of men’s hockey. The task force, says Brown, will make recommendations to ensure that the conduct of the team conforms to the “very high standards to which we hold all our students, especially those who represent the University in a prominent way.” Brown announced his decision to create the task force today in a letter sent to the Boston University community.

“We will ask the task force to look at our program with fresh, impartial eyes,” Brown says, “to determine whether the culture of hockey at BU meets the high standards of our academic community. If it does not, if the task force finds a culture where players are privileged or entitled or held to lesser standards, it will recommend changes to the way we think about and manage our hockey program.”

Brown says his mandate should not be mistaken for a judgment about what did or did not happen in the two cases of alleged assault. “Any determination about what transpired,” says Brown, “will be made by the judicial system. Rather, the convening of the task force reflects a judgment that when two similar incidents occur within a season, it is incumbent on us to look closely to learn if there are broader systemic issues that need to be addressed.”

The president praises head hockey coach Jack Parker’s leadership in calling for a full and transparent examination of the culture of hockey on campus. He shares the sentiment Parker (SMG’68, Hon.’97) expressed to the Boston Globe earlier this week: “I hope it’s a horrible coincidence. I don’t want this to be the culture of our team, and if it is, we’ll change it.”

“I believe Coach Parker got it exactly right,” Brown says.

The task force membership, which will include representatives from the faculty, staff, and University trustees and overseers, will be determined over the next several weeks, as will the specifics of its charge. Brown says the task force would be asked to submit its report to him by early summer so that implementation of recommendations could proceed in the fall.

“Having an excellent hockey program is a Boston University tradition,” says Brown, “but so, too, is demanding excellence from the young men who play the game. BU has done both successfully in the past. With the help of the task force and the broader campus community, we’ll do so in the future, too.”

34 Comments
Art Jahnke

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.

34 Comments on Brown Will Convene Hockey Task Force

  • Nick B on 02.23.2012 at 1:26 pm

    I have so much BU pride, but when anyone at any school is treated like a rockstar, he’ll feel like he can do just about anything. It’s too bad for BU and BU hockey.

  • Hockey fan on 02.23.2012 at 1:31 pm

    I think this is an excellent approach. I think Coach Parker’s stance on the recent turn of events has been crucial to the proper measures being taken to ensure that this sort of behavior does not threaten our community any more. I have experienced a variety of cultures playing on different teams, and there are a variety of social dynamics that arise in a team. I would hate to think that the recent arrests are indicative of the mind-set of our hockey team as a whole, but the steps they are taking to re-evaluate how player’s treat their opportunity to play for this University I think and hope will attack the issue as its root. There are plenty of quality players who do not engage in this elicit behavior as we can see in the majority of players who step on the ice for our school.

  • Alex on 02.23.2012 at 1:34 pm

    How is it going to be “[a] look at our program with fresh, impartial eyes,” if it’s a collection of alumni and employees of BU? I’m a huge supporter of BU Hockey – I just graduated, but was a season ticket holder for two years. The BU Men’s Hockey team holds a lot of clout on campus, which is the reason for this inquiry. Wouldn’t members of the BU community, who are already part of a culture of glorifying the hockey team as a point of pride and financial growth for the school, not be impartial? Shouldn’t President Brown be employing people outside the system?

    • TJ on 02.23.2012 at 1:56 pm

      I don’t think that’s something to be worried about, after the whole Penn State scandal, I think people inside the university will be investigating ESPECIALLY thoroughly to make sure this doesn’t become any bigger or more horrible than it already is

      • Alex on 02.23.2012 at 2:08 pm

        Thankfully, this is not at Penn State level yet. But in a case like Penn State, there was not any serious reform or investigation of the school culture until outside media and legal proceedings forced the issue. As far as I’m concerned, this will be a codified issue that is dealt with internally, when it is a much larger problem. This report is being released in July – when there is no student press on campus, and when no one is thinking about hockey. It’s the equivalent of releasing a news story on Friday afternoon.

        There should be a clear outline of who these people in this commission are, and an explanation of why mollifying these problems instead of curing them isn’t in the members best interest.

  • Emma on 02.23.2012 at 1:54 pm

    While I applaud President Brown for doing something. These incidents are symptomatic of a much larger problem that extends much further than the Hockey team or student athletes. None of this happened because the men were athletes or semi-famous. It happened because they were never given the tools to respect the word “no” in sexual matters.

    President Brown is not addressing the ugly reality that sexual assault has occurred on campus before and will continue to occur. The only way this will change is if we start talking about it. We need to ask ourselves difficult questions about what consent looks like and what sexual assault looks like. This is not a simple problem that can be solved with a “taskforce”. This is a messy, painful process that we all need to engage in.

    • Patrick on 02.23.2012 at 2:24 pm

      I agree that a more forthright discussion needs to take place. You’ll notice that in the original announcement that President Brown made, he states that “…two members of our team have been charged with assault this academic year.” Not sexual assault; assault.

      Weren’t both students charged with some degree of sexual assault? This reminds me of the aversion to the word “rape” when describing the allegations against Jerry Sandusky, from Penn State.

      • BU Student on 02.23.2012 at 7:48 pm

        I agree completely. President Brown using the term “assault” was the first thing I noticed in the announcement, as if these incidents involved a punch in the face, not sexual assault.

    • Old School on 02.24.2012 at 6:33 am

      I totally agree with most of this, but I would counter that the athletic department is a great place to start. Student athletes are some of the highest visibility students we have, and a treated with different standards than most other students. Those on scholarship get to go to school almost for free, and have tutors and support systems built in place that most attendees at this cold, monolithic place do not. To top that off, the leadership of the Athletic Department is headed by men who do not respect women, and the culture of sexual harassment present in the department does not help anyone.

      The hockey team may be manifesting the issue, but the lack of respect for women in general seems to stem from those who are supposedly there to guide the student-athletes.

      I hope this committee takes a long hard look at the root causes here, because this goes way beyond the hockey team.

  • Meghan on 02.23.2012 at 2:49 pm

    I am a proud (2011) BU alum, but it has long been clear to me that BU has a sexual assault problem. From a lack of focus on perpetrator prevention (i.e. telling men not to rape, rather than telling women who not to “get raped”), to the lack of attention to the topic at orientation (or at any subsequent event), to the lack of a dedicated rape crisis center (something which is common at other local universities, as well as our peer institutions), to the fact that the only time BARCC comes to campus to talk to students, it is generally initiated by student groups – BU is seriously backwards on sexual assault.

    BU- don’t just have a “task force” composed of people who have a stake in the university looking good. Talk to students. Let students participate in the task force. Put stickers with information on who to contact if you’ve been sexually assaulted inside every bathroom stall (Harvard does this, and I’m sure they’re not the only ones.) Address the topic at orientation. Talk about what sexual assault and consent are. Address the culture that allows things like this to keep happening, with nothing actually changing. Talk about a culture that allowed something like RateBU to gain so much popularity in Fall 2010 to happen. Do something BU- a lot of us are watching.

    • Old School on 02.24.2012 at 6:36 am

      I applaud your ideas…this issue is much bigger and needs much more attention than is being given by a task force looking at our highest profile group of male students!

      This whole thing reeks of CYA, and not of actual prevention or healing. It also shows that the problem is not truly understood by Brown…which is no surprise, since he is so far removed from the day to day lives of those people who actually live the life of the University.

  • BU Student on 02.23.2012 at 3:07 pm

    Wait… so we have to stop kissing the ground they walk on?

    • Student on 02.24.2012 at 9:25 am

      Phew! Great because my lips are sore and I have better things to do!

  • BU alum in Vermont on 02.23.2012 at 4:18 pm

    I imagine the recent high visibility incidents reflect deeper seated and more widely spread problems for the team and the university. Addressing these issues and creating the needed positive change will not be easy but a good place to start might be joining together. I plan to be at UVM this weekend cheering for BU…you don’t have to agree with a friend to stand by them.

  • Steve on 02.23.2012 at 11:47 pm

    You want to see more sexual assaults get reported, institute a form of an amnesty policy in cases where someone has been sexually assaulted!

  • Concerned Student on 02.24.2012 at 6:20 am

    When I received President Brown’s letter, I questioned the fact if the commission could truly be impartial. This is not to say that the moral character of the task force members is corrupt. But the fact that the members have a stake in making the university look good, certain conflict of interests do rise. However, bringing in people from outside the BU community might not be the best choice either as they will overlook certain nuances of the BU culture/community. At the end of the day it up to us, the entire BU community to resolve the issue. The fact that students are being kept out, at least at this level, is disheartening. We are also stakeholder in the future of the safety on campus. Moreover, we have to accept that sexual assault, to both women and men, happens on campus not because it is a BU thing or a college thing, but because it is a societal thing. Sexual assault happens in the smallest of family units, what makes us students and the BU administration think that is does not happen at a school that has nearly 35,000 students. Sexual assault is a reality and the strength/integrity of Boston University will be demonstrated when all stakeholders (administration, faculty, staff, students) accept the truth and unite to create proactive solutions.

  • Frank on 02.24.2012 at 8:35 am

    The task force should commence immediately, not within several weeks when the hockey season is over. They’re going to study the culture of the team in the absence of the team.

  • Rob on 02.24.2012 at 9:02 am

    Does anybody else find it unsettling that Coach Parker is included in the investigation team? I hope that the change that Coach Parker is willing to embrace will include his stepping down if it is determined that, as leader of the team, he is partially responsible for creating this mess. I’m fully cognizant of Coach Parker’s legacy to the team and the school, but we are well beyond the issue of sports legacies here.

    • Jon on 02.24.2012 at 9:48 am

      What is unsettling is your lack of reading comprehension. The task force has not been formed yet. How do you know that Coach Parker is going to be part of the investigation team?

    • Ron on 02.24.2012 at 9:59 am

      Seems like having Coach Parker on the team and having no student representatives (especially females) is problematic.

      • Jon on 02.24.2012 at 10:43 am

        Again, the team has not been formed. So, you have no idead who is going to be on the team.

  • Rich'55 on 02.24.2012 at 9:31 am

    As one who went to the first Beanpot, I am probably older that most reading BU Today. I hope that President Brown will include alumni trustees in his task force, people who have a longer perspective on this great hockey program. We should be able to recruit top players who have enough maturity to handle game performance, academics, and their personal lives. This is an opportunity to be at the top of our game.

  • Paul on 02.24.2012 at 9:34 am

    I think one of the big contributing factors is the BU Hockey team is somehow able to admit kids into the MET and have them play for the school. The MET is the adult continuing education program. Harvard does not let athletes get degrees from the extension school, they have to be full time students at the college. Northeastern does not let athletes get a degree from their CPS. I think this shows that some members on the BU hockey team are not academically qualified to be on the team and are not at BU for anything close to academic reasons. In addition to that a culture is created because these kids do not go to normal classes and are separated from students during the day. Who is in MET you ask? Arguably the more talented kids: Clendening, Connolly, Gilroy, and Millan. Oh and Trivino and Nicastro. On a sidenote, student-athletes going to the MET seems to pretty much only be going on for the hockey program, the basketball team for example has zero kids getting degrees from the MET.

    • Student on 02.24.2012 at 11:31 am

      You forgot about CGS…

      • Alum on 02.24.2012 at 5:49 pm

        Very few male hockey players are ever in CGS. The schedules there are harder to work around, for one reason. Get your facts straight.

        • Student on 03.01.2012 at 1:36 pm

          Funny, I seem to notice several male hockey players in CGS for their first two years here. And every semester, there’s one “athlete team” which is considerably easier than the others, that all the student athletes register for. In addition, D1 athletes are often given extensions, tutors, and letters from the coach that allow them to miss classes. But I’m sure you know what you’re talking about.

  • Gunita on 02.24.2012 at 9:55 am

    I really hope that the nature of this task force is such that the sole priority is not just to protect the integrity of BU but to examine every element of the athletic culture in question here. I think it’s a great, honorable step to initiate such a process – it shows that the problem of assault may not be incidental but part of a more granular framework of a potentially aggressive culture. While it’s obviously important for a university to have a wide variety of strengths and opportunities, in the arts, sports, scientific innovation, etc – I sincerely believe that heightened emphasis on physical prowess and dominance that is inextricably linked to sports culture can simply be disastrous. I’ve seen it time and time again. I think we’re lucky that we don’t see similar problems in the culture of fraternities, here.

  • Patricia Downer on 02.24.2012 at 10:00 am

    This whole thing makes me ashamed to be a BU alum. Not only does the school need to look at the Hockey team, but it also needs to look at how the school can create an environment that better discourages/prevents rape & sexual assault. The also school needs to look at the type of support services it provides to victims of sexual assault. I was appalled by a friend’s story of what happened when she tried to get support from BU’s Student Health. Her story: http://www.facebook.com/notes/allison-mccorgi/boston-universitys-failure-to-provide-support-for-victims-of-sexual-assault-trig/10150571870112036

  • A Student on 02.24.2012 at 11:15 am

    With regard to the facebook post about the woman who called the rape crisis center, I believe she was simply looking to cause a stink. Though I could get lots of backlash from this, why else would this person try to do this in the wake of these events except to go out and make BU look bad? Yes, I agree that it was absolutely a problem when she was rerouted several times, and it is certainly a problem that needs to be adressed. But I also don’t think taking it to social medica networks like twitter and facebook is the way to go about finding a change. All you’re going to receive back are lots of words of enouragement from people who agree with you, but no one is ever going to do anything except cheer the other person on. It looks bad on BU, a place that you are associated with believe it or not because you attend school there. Especially at 55K a year, it’s not something that parents want to see. I would be mortified if my parents saw. Yes, it’s obvious that changes need to be made immediately, I just think that taking it to facebook and twitter is not the way. We should try and get organizations like the student union or any of the college governments together to try and come up with something that represents all of us, not just the trustees and administrators with regard to the task force.

    • Joe on 02.26.2012 at 1:25 pm

      And BU saw those posts and responded to them by fixing the problem, and hopefully they will take all the negative feedback as incentive to fix the deep underlying problems the university has with focusing on ways to prevent sexual assault as well as reach out to victims. So in this case, I would say social media definitely helped.

  • David McBride on 02.24.2012 at 12:09 pm

    We have a well-developed system for supporting students who have been subject to trauma, including sexual assault. The problem the individual encountered is not typical as we have served countless students who have been survivors of crime either on campus or elsewhere. Our answering service gave incorrect information about the availability of services. When we heard of the problem yesterday morning, we immediately took steps to investigate. We reached out to her to insure that she was safe and did not need assistance with a personal experience. We then re-affirmed our policy for reaching our Crisis Counselor on call in the event of an after-hours call related to sexual assault. I provided clarification to our answering services in writing and verbally and we tested the system last night. We will continue to test the system over the next several weeks and ongoing to insure that students are consistently given correct information.

    We have a strong relationship with the CGSA and VOX, in fact one of our Crisis Counselors actually sees patients in the CGSA space. I reached out to both groups yesterday to express my distress about the situation. Members of my staff will be attending the CGSA town hall meeting on Monday. In addition, I plan to meet with the groups to brainstorm together about how to build on our system to address and prevent sexual violence on campus.

    Student Health Services staff is committed to the health and safety of Boston University students and we will do whatever we can to support a safe environment here.

  • Just Saying on 02.24.2012 at 1:22 pm

    Hi Emma, you hit the nail right on the nose.
    the problem is the whole world is in termiol.
    Read below about murder in Charlottesville

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – In a trial that revealed the lives of elite athletes at a top-notch school, a former University of Virginia lacrosse player faces 26 years in prison for the beating death of his former girlfriend amid a swirl of betrayal, distrust, anger and a culture of drinking.
    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – In a trial that revealed the lives of elite athletes at a top-notch school, a former University of Virginia lacrosse player faces 26 years in prison for the beating death of his former girlfriend amid a swirl of betrayal, distrust, anger and a culture of drinking.

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – In a trial that revealed the lives of elite athletes at a top-notch school, a former University of Virginia lacrosse player faces 26 years in prison for the beating death of his former girlfriend amid a swirl of betrayal, distrust, anger and a culture of drinking.

    Huguely killed Love, a U.Va. women’s lacrosse player from suburban Baltimore, after a day of golf and binge drinking, incensed that she had had a relationship with a North Carolina lacrosse player, the prosecution said. Love’s right eye was bashed in and she was hit with such power that her brain was bruised. She also had wrenching head injury that caused bleeding at the base of her brain stem.

    We all need to pay attention to detail when you see someone who is crying out for help, help them you could save everyone involed a life of heartaches.
    you have to stop saying to your self it’s not my problem……It’s all our problem weither you believe that or not.
    We are fighting a huge fight I understand that,……but if one by one we all do our part we can save one life at a time, even if it takes you the rest of your life to do it.
    special thanks to Emma who get’s it!!!

    Ask your self how many more horrible stories do I have to read each day before I step in to just help somone in need.

    if you hvae time to text over 200 thousand times a day,go on face book 1 million times a month, then you should have 1 minute to save a life.
    this is your world and you have to live in it!!!!!dont let technology consume your life.

  • michael williams on 02.24.2012 at 5:49 pm

    Totally inadequate. BU needs to invite an outside consultant to come in, investigate, and make recommendations.

    DIdn’t we learn anything from Penn State?

    • Just Saying on 02.27.2012 at 1:18 pm

      Hi Michael

      you are so right we need reinforcement we can’t do this alone, we are strenghth in numbers. I think out side consultants is perfect idea.
      the consultants need to cover all areas that students need help with.
      Bulling
      sexual assaults
      rape
      suicides
      post traumatic stress

      And anything else they can provide service to the students

      I just read MSN and one student dead, three injured at Ohio State High School.
      the sad thing is the shooter texted or twitted he was going to bring gun to school and no one did anything about it.
      the ones who did see text thought it was a hoax, these days everything should be taking seriously, we live in a different kind of world these days with so much technology consuming are lives. that we dont have time to even save another persons life.

      also the student missing at Boston College is another example we are not alone, with violence, I will call Nancy Grace to see if she can air the story nationaly
      the more eyes the better to find missing people.

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