McGill incident prompts new Huskies conduct code
A hazing incident this fall at McGill University that resulted in the cancellation of the remainder of its football season has prompted U of S Huskie Athletics to develop a code of conduct specific to athletes.
McGill announced Oct. 18 that football was over for the season after it investigated and confirmed the team engaged in “serious hazing, including threats and intimidation, by comments and actions and by the use of demeaning, stereotyped epithets” during its annual Rookie Night in August.
Interim Provost Anthony Masi confirmed in a news release that the university’s investigation found the incident involved “nudity, degrading positions and behaviours, gagging, touching in inappropriate manners with a broomstick as well as verbal and physical intimidation of rookies by a large portion of the team”. Contrary to media reports, the investigation found no evidence of sodomy, said Masi, but what did take place “has no place at McGill. It will not be tolerated in any form. No excuses. No exceptions.”
At the U of S until now, individual coaches have been responsible for making it clear “what we think is appropriate behaviour”, said Ross Wilson, Director of Huskie Athletics, but in light of the McGill situation, it is now time for “something more formal just for athletes … that’s specific to teams and can be shared with teams”.
He added that in his 15 years with the University, there has never been a complaint about inappropriate treatment of an athlete, indicating “the coaches have done a good job drawing the line between what’s fun, what’s appropriate, and what’s not”.
Huskie Athletics has both the general U of S code of conduct and a section in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) bylaws defining harassment “to fall back on if we feel we need them, so we’ve never put a written [code of conduct] in place, but we’re doing one now.”
In preparing the document that Wilson hopes will be completed by Christmas, Huskie Athletics will look at what their counterparts at other institutions have done. It will use “sports language and team settings”, he said, because the majority of incidents like the one at McGill “seem to have occurred in team situations”.
Wilson said the U of S football team’s initiation event involves the rookies doing skits for the senior players, but participation is voluntary. Throughout the athletic program, “rookies often carry the equipment bags and fill the water bottles, but nobody is put in a humiliating situation”.