BU Hockey Culture? Or BU Culture?
Four rapes and seven sexual assaults. That’s the latest number of sexual offenses reported on Boston University’s campus this academic year. This statistic has been widely quoted by Boston news outlets debating the recent hockey team scandal in which two players were each accused of sexual crimes less than two months apart, the latest taking place on Feb. 19.
The media has been theorizing over how such behavior could happen twice, comparing BU’s legendary hockey coach Jack Parker with the late Joe Paterno, and prompting BU President Robert Brown to create an investigative task force.
“I am writing to let you know that I am forming a task force […] which will be charged with studying the culture and climate of the men’s ice hockey team and its influence on the behavior of student athletes in our campus community,” Brown wrote to the BU community via email on Feb. 23.
As a senior at BU, I found the official statement regarding the case a little surprising. The issue seemed to have become taboo among officials who weren’t saying a word about either of the alleged offenses. Finally, I thought after receiving the email, the university is facing the facts and taking a stance. Yet reading it, I realized that the greater issue was being overlooked as the university attempted to save face.
Athletic privileges are a problem at BU and at many other universities around the country, but there is larger issue here, and it isn’t hockey culture. It’s rape culture.
Not once this academic year have students received an email from BU reminding them of the available resources on campus dealing with sexual assault. BUPD — which isn’t even stated as a resource on BU’s official sexual assault webpage — has been quiet. The Student Health Center, responsible for dealing with victims of this kind of aggression, has stayed mute on the subject while emailing students about flu shots and cold symptoms.
The university said it would hold informational sessions about sexual assault and rape by way of student organizations and the Student Health Center. But so far, the only ones making moves are the students, such as those leading The Center for Gender Sexuality and Activism, a group that a discussion about the issue with the Dean of Students on Feb. 27.
Local colleges all deal with sexual assault differently: All the way from Harvard, which has an entire office dedicated to the issue, down to Suffolk, which has a web link that doesn’t work. Most of them, however, have an online list of internal and external resources that range from the Spiritual Center at Northeastern to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center hotline. BU has Crisis Intervention Counselors available 24/7 on campus. These trained professionals have extensive experience in the field and are truly devoted to helping survivors in all areas of their life, mental and physical health as well as legal and academic counseling.
Unfortunately I found out about BU’s resources not through official communication, but through a sticker on the back of a bathroom door in the basement of a classroom building. That’s probably not the most efficient way of communicating with victims.
Sexual offenses take place everywhere, day and night. It certainly isn’t just a college issue. But BU has experts on staff to prevent and treat sexual assault cases. Why it keeps delegating the task of awareness to student groups remains unknown.