• Art Jahnke

    Senior Contributing Editor

    Art Janke

    Art Jahnke began his career at the Real Paper, a Boston area alternative weekly. He has worked as a writer and editor at Boston Magazine, web editorial director at CXO Media, and executive editor in Marketing & Communications at Boston University, where his work was honored with many awards. Profile

Comments & Discussion

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There are 37 comments on President Names Task Force on Ice Hockey

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

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

    1. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. “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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

    1. 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.

  16. 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!!!!

  17. 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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