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President Names Task Force on Ice Hockey

Report on team culture due this summer

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In the wake of sexual assault allegations against two BU hockey players in the space of 10 weeks, President Robert A. Brown has convened a special Task Force on Men’s Ice Hockey to assess the culture and climate of the hockey team and to recommend ways to ensure that they are wholly consistent with the values and mission of the University. The 16-member task force, cochaired by Jonathan Cole, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee of the BU Board of Trustees, and Jean Morrison, University Provost and Chief Academic Officer, will draw on the knowledge of recognized experts in a broad spectrum of fields.

“We have assembled a task force with deep expertise in issues that the group will address in its deliberations,” says Brown. “I am grateful to the members for their commitment to serve in this important capacity, and I look forward to their report.”

In a memorandum sent to task force members, Brown urged the investigators to reach out to faculty, staff, and students, including hockey players and other student-athletes, and to consult alumni and outside experts. The president said the assessment should compare the academic performance of hockey players to that of other students and student-athletes, examine the hockey players’ engagement in student life as it compares to others, and scrutinize the disciplinary history of the team compared to disciplinary practices in the larger student community. He asked that the task force report be submitted this summer so that necessary changes can be made early in the fall semester.

“We will take whatever steps are necessary to restore the community’s confidence in our men’s ice hockey program,” says Brown. “We will ensure that the standards we set for our student-athletes are consistent with our mission, core purposes, and aspirations, and that those standards are consistently applied.”

Morrison, who previously was the executive vice provost for academic affairs at the University of Southern California, where she chaired the provost’s Oversight Committee on Athletic Academic Affairs, says task force members were chosen for their expertise in specific issues.

“We want to make sure we assess and interpret the data we gather with substantive expertise,” says Morrison. “We looked for a diversity of knowledge and are fortunate to have experts among our faculty and staff.”

Morrison says the task force will look at all aspects of the team, including academic performance, student life, and leadership. She says the task force assessment is unrelated to either the University’s judicial efforts or the state criminal process to determine the guilt or innocence of the hockey players who have been charged. “This is not about the guilt or innocence of the individuals who have been charged,” she says. “This is an institutional effort to look broadly at potential issues with regard to the culture and climate of the ice hockey team.”

Cole, who is John Mitchell Mason Professor of the University at Columbia University, says he wants to “take a hard look at the data around academic, student life, and leadership issues to assess if there is a fundamental problem.” Cole is also provost emeritus and dean emeritus of faculties at Columbia.

“This is going to be a thorough and thoughtful assessment,” says Cole, a former fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and the author of The Great American University: Its Rise to Preeminence, Its Indispensable National Role, Why It Must Be Protected. “We want to gather input from students and faculty and alumni. We are eager to hear everyone’s opinion and concerns and we will seek input broadly. Our final report will be an assessment of all of the information we have gathered, with specific recommendations for how to make necessary changes.”

Other members of the task force:

  • Amy Baltzell (SED’96,’99) is a School of Education clinical assistant professor of education; she coordinates the sport psychology specialization in the school’s counseling program. A former Olympic rower, she is the author of Living in the Sweet Spot: Preparing for Performance in Sport and Life.
  • Sara Brown is a Sargent College clinical associate professor and director of programs in athletic training and chair of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Executive Committee for Education.
  • William DeJong is a School of Public Health professor of community health sciences. He was director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Higher Education Center for Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Violence Prevention from 1995 to 2004.
  • David Hollowell (ENG’69,’72, GSM’74) is a University overseer, a former president of the BU Alumni Council, and a former executive vice president and treasurer at the University of Delaware.
  • Jeffrey Hutter is the Goldman School of Dental Medicine dean and Spencer N. Frankl Chair in Dental Medicine. He retired with the rank of captain from the U.S. Navy Dental Corps in 1996 after a 21-year career.
  • Michael J. Lyons is a College of Arts & Sciences professor and chair of the psychology department.
  • Elizabeth Mehren is a College of Communication professor of journalism and a former New England bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. She has written magazine stories about events ranging from presidential politics to the Roman Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal. Mehren was a reporter and news editor at the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle, and is the author of two books, After the Darkest Hour, the Sun Will Shine Again: A Parents’ Guide to Coping with the Loss of a Child and Born Too Soon.
  • Carla Meyer (SSW’78) is a social worker, a BU trustee, and a former lecturer at the School of Social Work. She is a trustee of the Schooner Foundation, which supports organizations that focus on civil rights, peace, and security.
  • Francine Montemurro is the ombudsperson at Boston University. Previously, she held a similar position at Binghamton University in upstate New York.
  • Maureen O’Rourke is dean of the BU School of Law and a professor of law.
  • C. A. Lance Piccolo (SED’62) is the chair of the Athletic Committee of the Board of Trustees and president and CEO of HealthPic Consultants, Inc., a private consulting company. He played football for Boston University.
  • Kim Randall is director of equal opportunity at BU’s Office of Human Resources.
  • Richard D. Reidy (SMG’82) is a BU trustee and former president and CEO of Progress Software Corporation.
  • Emily F. Rothman is an SPH associate professor of community health sciences and a visiting scientist at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. She is an expert in intimate partner violence perpetration. Rothman worked for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health from 1997 to 2004 in the Bureau of Family and Community Health’s Department of Violence and Injury Prevention.
37 Comments
Art Jahnke

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

37 Comments on President Names Task Force on Ice Hockey

  • BU Student on 03.07.2012 at 10:42 am

    Why aren’t there any students on this task force?

    • Emma on 03.07.2012 at 11:08 am

      Agreed. And while we are at it, why are it’s co-chairs from outside the university?

    • student athlete on 03.07.2012 at 11:35 am

      Presumably they are going to interview students and student/athletes? But I agree there should be a couple students on the task force itself.

    • Kirk on 03.07.2012 at 12:17 pm

      This is BU. Not including students in such things is common practice, or at least it was when I was there (’95). The idea is that students are entirely ignorant until they complete their degrees, and on their day of graduation, they blossom into adults with opinions that can be respected.

      That said, I may be more concerned about the lack of outsiders in this group. I think it’s good that no one directly involved with the athletic department is on the panel, since that could compromise objectivity. The former athletes on there may cause concerns, but having someone currently involved will be worse. The lack of outsiders could help maintain access to information, though, so we’ll see.

      Kudos for including Elizabeth Mehren and Emily Rothman.

      • Shiran Sukumar on 03.08.2012 at 12:17 pm

        Indeed, that fact that they even need to set up a task force already shows there distance from the problem and the separation of how BU deals with its students. If a regular student (regular is non athletic) the consequences are simple, but why in this instance does the law of Boston or even the schools own laws apply? And of course, the fact that there are no BU students devalues (in my perspective) the task force itself. They are using parliamentary procedures to make decisions, what they are really doing is dehumanizing the victims. However, the members of the T.F. are well educated and formulated individuals, but even they can be plagued by the realm of politics. BU is only a microcosm of the larger sphere, so perhaps we should all take a step back and figure out what our individual responsibility is to our local and universal communities.

    • BU person on 03.08.2012 at 12:12 pm

      The committee is impressive but i have to agree. Having at least one young person (early 20′s) on there is a good idea.

  • Keeley on 03.07.2012 at 11:28 am

    Make sure someone goes to T’s Pub to really see how hockey players interact with girls – completely inappropriately. There are also rumors that the hockey players bring girls back to their locker room, where they then have sex. Disgusting. If you are really going to assess these situations and their causes, be sure to really go beyond what happens on this campus and within the student body realm by looking first hand at the social lives of these hockey players. The way the majority of them spend their free time is not at all okay, and the things they do during their free time are completely degrading to women. I still believe there should be a no tolerance policy. Please, please, please instate that. If one thing comes out of this, it should be that.

  • Larry Davenport on 03.07.2012 at 11:42 am

    What about a former player. Someone who has actually experiened what it is to be a B.U. hockey player?

    • Kirk on 03.07.2012 at 12:20 pm

      I see your point, though I think the value of former players to this task force is more in their testimony, rather than their participation. Including people too directly involved with the hockey program could lend an appearance of partiality that they would want to avoid.

  • Melissa Terrio '95 on 03.07.2012 at 12:48 pm

    It appears the committee leans heavily on faculty. It would be nice to see some current students on the committee and more staff who also have a vested interest in the culture on campus. Kudos for taking action though.

    • Issac Rich on 03.15.2012 at 7:58 am

      Appointing a committee is stereotypically a political device to delay making a decision. In this instance, making a decision would impact the hockey season so the president stood up a committee as a stall tactic to allow the issue to become stale… people will largely forget about it, aided by the courts’ snail-like progress and the derivative lack of press coverage. To further delay any action, the president has purposely created a bureaucratic roadblock by appointing 16 members to the committee, with not a single “investigator” among them. This will almost certainly result in bickering and infighting and a report that is vanilla at best. The president will then “act” on the mildest of the recommendations of the committee, finding reasons to ignore any real action that might upset the Athletic Department’s apple cart. By then, the school year will be over and this topic will have been forgotten. Problem solved.

  • Arjun on 03.07.2012 at 12:50 pm

    I hope that BU also creates a task force to examine the efficiency of its large bureaucracy. BU’s bureaucracy is out of hand—it creates meaningless tasks to sustain itself. It is important to benchmark BU’s performance against comparable universities, and identify areas of improvement. A credible third party must audit this, and publicize the findings. As a future alumnus, I am concerned that my donations would be wasted to hire another bureaucrat, and not put to meaningful use.

  • Student on 03.07.2012 at 1:25 pm

    This is not only embarrassing for the hockey team and the entire BU hockey program, but it’s also really embarrassing for the university as a whole.

    • Embarrased? on 03.07.2012 at 1:36 pm

      I would argue that the 2 hockey players being accused/arrested/charged/tried for sexual assault is embarrassing for the University – not the University taking action on it.

      • Amanda on 03.07.2012 at 9:55 pm

        Seconded.

    • Another Student on 03.08.2012 at 3:55 pm

      BUT! There are other hockey players doing good things… Nick Dougherty is a club hockey player and started Project Mailbox (the other article from today http://www.bu.edu/today/2012/project-mailbox/). Pretty solid on the University for helping him get that off the ground.

  • Jenn '06 on 03.07.2012 at 2:54 pm

    Having been a student athlete at BU relatively recently and taken classes with a few hockey players, I can attest that they do get preferential treatment and the ones I encountered would not have been attending BU without a hockey scholarship. In the varsity weight rooms they were deferred to and had more trainers and equipment than they could use- perhaps to the detriment of other programs. They believe that they’re better than everyone and the university supports that notion. BU fawns over our hockey players, it’s just how it is. Maybe if we had other, stronger athletic programs they wouldn’t feel like kings of the castle. Or maybe BU needs to be stricter on the hockey team’s academics and moral codes.

  • Ron on 03.07.2012 at 6:21 pm

    I appreciate the credentials of the task force appointees but, as a parent, I feel that there should be student representation. What message does the omission send to students re/their voice at BU and beyond?

  • Amanda on 03.07.2012 at 9:54 pm

    I agree with several other commenters that the lack of student representation on this task force is distressing. I also fail to see the relevance of players’ “rigor, attendance, diligence, and performance in [their] chosen fields of study” to the question of whether they are likely to commit sexual assault. Excellent students are no less likely to rape than poor or mediocre ones. Yet “academic quality” is the first item listed for review in the President’s memo to the task force.

    I’m glad that this task force exists at all, but anyone with an interest in preventing sexual assault at BU should keep a close and skeptical eye on the way this investigation plays out.

  • Yourdad on 03.08.2012 at 5:51 am

    I have a son at BU (who isn’t on the hockey team) and I’m glad that no students are on this task force. There’d be too much pressure put on a student by his/her peers.

    When the Univ of Vermont experienced a hazing problem with their mens’ hockey team 10 years ago (yes, it involved alcohol and sheep) UVM simply cancelled the entire hockey season. Maybe this is what BU needs to do. Or perhaps the hockey team’s scholarships should be cut by 33% (for the following year) whenever any hockey player gets arrested. So 1 arrest impacts everyone! Three arrests = no more hockey scholarships. BU needs to take strong corrective measures or this task force will be viewed as an institutional cover-up.

  • GS on 03.08.2012 at 6:05 am

    Excluding students and other potentially ‘interested parties’ is appropriate, and the composition of the task force really does makes good sense if you think about it broadly. BU is an academic institution and this is largely an academic study. The task force should definitely speak to students, many students, and lots of other potential stake holders as they gather data – which will likely be quite emotional and animated as it is gathered, but the analysis of any data needs to remain very pure and rooted in academic integrity. ‘What has happened’ is a matter to be addressed in the courts. ‘Why it happened’ is the real question and it should be looked at in a much broader light than a particular athlete, on a particular night, in a particular situation. We need to understand why it is that these things seem to be happening, is the frequency of occurence (reported and unreported) something other that an unfortunate anomaly, are there macro changes/modifications which need to be made to provide a better/healthier structure for all students at the university, etc. Everyone must understand that there are no winners here … the students, the athletes, the university, the alumni, etc … everyone loses and that’s what has to be considered. I, for one, hope that the task force will follow all leads, study every angle and perhaps most importantly not be afraid of what it may discover. A wise person once said, ‘sunshine is the best disinfectant’. So pull back the curtains open the windows and let it pour in … bring it on!

    • Old School on 03.08.2012 at 6:33 am

      A group of academics could not be less capable of looking at things from a real world perspective. Inherently, they are not able to see things from any other perspective other than their own, which will not allow any empathy towards the student experience.

      • Mark on 03.08.2012 at 7:16 am

        That doesn’t make any sense, Old School.

  • Old School on 03.08.2012 at 6:40 am

    The fact that this task force is focused specifically on Men’s hockey will keep it from being successful. Men’s Hockey’s issues are a symptom of a larger problem, not the place that has problems. BU (and other universities, I’m sure) are a place where a strict caste system is in place. Students-athletes on teams that are “big-time’ get preferential treatment. Tenured faculty at the “most important” schools get the best treatment. All of this enables those “stars” to feel like they are not held to the same standards as the “normal” people. This treatment ends up with bad behavior…and not just the hockey team.

    Let’s also not forget that the the Athletic Department as a whole is place where sexual harassment and sexism are commonplace, and accepted at the highest levels of leadership.

    If you want to really address the problems here, a narrow focus by a bunch of cloisters, old academics will not yield a useful perspective on the issue.

  • Lara on 03.08.2012 at 8:29 am

    I’m happy they’re creating a task force with many people to address this problem, but why is there not a single individual on the panel that specializes in counseling, or analyzing, sexual assault and rape culture? Is that not the crime/behavior at hand with these hockey players? And why has no one mentioned this thus far? Unbelievable!

    • Yourdad on 03.08.2012 at 9:33 am

      Lara, did you read the whole article? In addition to Jean Morrison, there are 8 other women on the panel. Moreover, Emily Rothman, an expert in “intimate partner violence” and William DeJong, who was “director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Higher Education Center for Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Violence Prevention from 1995 to 2004.” Sure, they could add more people to the panel, but then it turns into a mob. They have enough experts as it stands.

      an expert in the issue of violence against women.

    • Sarah on 03.08.2012 at 9:58 am

      Professor Rothman is an expert and leader in the sexual violence field. I am more than confident that she will bring the needed knowledge, skills, and perspective on sexual violence and rape culture to the task force.

  • Sophie on 03.08.2012 at 9:30 am

    Actually, Lara, Professor Rothman is considered a true leader in the field of sexual assault, particularly among young adults and adolescents. She has a background in working in the field of sexual assault and domestic violence, and she will bring that perspective to the committee.

  • Where is the anthropologist? on 03.08.2012 at 9:31 am

    “Emily F. Rothman is an SPH associate professor of community health sciences and a visiting scientist at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. She is an expert in intimate partner violence perpetration. Rothman worked for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health from 1997 to 2004 in the Bureau of Family and Community Health’s Department of Violence and Injury Prevention.” I would say she is pretty close.
    I did have a similar thought that there is not one anthropologist on this task force, the very people who study culture. If anyone is qualified to determine if there is a problematic “culture” on the hockey team, in the Athletic Department, and BU in general, it would certainly be an anthropologist.

  • Anthro on 03.08.2012 at 9:46 am

    Maybe an anthropology student would be a good idea too. I definitely see the benefit of having a student’s imput, and what better than one who is at least a little skilled in tackling a question of culture.

  • Sarah on 03.08.2012 at 9:57 am

    I hope that this task force and investigation leads to a more thorough dialogue on sexual assault at BU as a whole. 11 reported offenses, plus however many unreported offenses, is unacceptable. BU’s current resources for preventing and handling sexual assault are lacking. It is my hope this task force serves as a jumping-off point for significant changes.

  • former fan on 03.08.2012 at 10:30 am

    The language of the letter speaks only to the individuals (the players). What of the team’s leadership – the coaching staff?

  • Devin Buckley on 03.08.2012 at 11:10 am

    HERE IS AN ARTICLE SUBMITTED TO THE PRESIDENT BY ME, WHICH HE IGNORED ON A CULTURE RESPONSIBLE AT THIS SCHOOl. IT IS ON DEAN ELMORE’S BLOG: http://www.bu.edu/dos/2012/02/27/guest-post-why-the-hockey-team-again-a-cultural-basis-underlying-predatory-behaviors/

  • two cases on 03.08.2012 at 1:07 pm

    Statistically two cases in ten weeks is not a pattern. It doesn’t mean anything.

    • two cases on 06.04.2012 at 12:08 pm

      Also, availability heuristic is in action in people’s judgments and comments here. Charges against hockey players bring to mind vivid images of misbehaving hockey players. Facts may be overshadowed by what easily comes to mind.

      Consider the hypothetical news “In the wake of sexual assault allegations against two BU librarians in the space of 10 weeks, President Robert A. Brown has convened a special Task Force on Librarians to assess the culture and climate of the librarian community.” Wouldn’t that be ridiculed?

      A fact is that charges against one of the hockey players has been dismissed.

  • Just Saying on 03.08.2012 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks to all the students who posted their comments and who wasn’t afraid to speakout, remember you are strenghth in numbers (31 post is way to small of a number….. let make it 2 thousand new post I’m pretty sure you can get more people to speakout. If you have 900 friends on facebook,I’m pretty sure you have 900 friends at B.U to support your cause.
    We all can learn from this no matter what!!!!!, let’s teach each other that enough is enough ( adapt a zero tolerance as of today to stop all violence of any kind)
    If Govern Patrick can have (500 men sign up for zero crimes against woman and children I think our students can get much higher number to support B.U Task force

    FYI:
    Unfortunately, when … kids – and also adults – sit in front of the computer, they don’t think the responsibility is there because they’re not talking to somebody, “They’re putting it down on the screen and pushing a button. I think it becomes a little easier for people to say things they normally wouldn’t say.”

    Use social networking less and get back to basic ways to communicate before the internet took full control of your life…………march on students march on!!!!

  • NLS on 03.12.2012 at 6:43 pm

    Oh, was the hockey team our weak point in the comparisons with Harvard and MIT? Or was it what Tsinghua and Beijing Universities did in order to leap ahead of us in world rankings? This task force sounds like a waste of money and time.

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