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An Incident, and a response

Your Humble Blogger is a fan of the Boston University Terriers (Men’s Hockey); it’s my winter sport. I am not an obsessive fan, but I follow their fortunes, and enjoy reading about the wins and losses. Enjoy the wins more, of course. It was distressing, then to read about Corey Trivino, who was not only the Terriers leading goal-scorer but the leading goal scorer for the Hockey East conference, being kicked off the team. For (allegedly) drunkenly assaulting his RA.

Let me begin this note by saying that I am glad that the Terrier’s legendary coach Jack Parker kicked Mr. Trivino off the team immediately. Coach Parker does have some history of soft discipline, of playing the NCAA sports game of looking the other way while his boys escape the consequences of actions (or inactions) that non-athletes would never get away with. On the other hand, he did sit his senior goalie earlier this season for cutting class—true, he was going to rest the young man for a game anyway at some point, but he publicly stated that Kieran Millan was being benched for skipping class, which may have done some good. And yes, when Coach Parker was called, at one in the morning on Monday, he first called an attorney so that Mr. Trivino would have the representation that we are all entitled to, then spoke to the young man’s parents, and then spoke to the man himself and let him know that he was off the team. All of those things seem to be to be correct and admirable actions on the part of a college coach, in a context where it is far from clear that he would be punished for doing nothing.

Because, let’s be clear: top-level college sports in this country are a cesspool of misbehavior, abuse and assault. Let’s be clear: colleges in this country are a cesspool of misbehavior, abuse and assault. They probably always have been—certainly it has been more the rule than the exception—and they are now. And athletes, particularly star athletes one Division One teams, athletes who have expectations of professional careers (Mr. Trivino was drafted by the Islanders), athletes have reason to think that they can get away with pretty nearly anything. They are treated as if they are above the norms of society, at least, and most of the campus rules and probably some of the law. Sometimes the coaches encourage that (perhaps as a misguided attempt to foster the aggressive pride that comes out in competition) and sometimes they ignore it, but far too infrequently do they combat it.

But I am troubled by this interview. To explain, I want to tell the story, and I need to emphasize that these are allegations, and that I don’t know the truth of the matter. But here’s the story: a 21-year-old college senior (6’1”, 185 lbs) is asked by his (female) RA to quiet down. He follower her back to room, shoves the door open, gropes her and kisses her. She tells him to go, and he does, but he returns, and again pushes his way into the room and tries to kiss her. She persuades him to leave, but he returns again, and this time refuses to leave. Eventually, when the RA calls the Resident Director, he does flee, and eventually is arrested by the BUPD. In short: he drunkenly assaults his RA three times, eventually forcing his way into her room and onto her bed.

Coach Parker says that he kicks the man off his team for an alcohol-related incident. He said that he had warned Mr. Trivino that he would be kicked off the team if he had another alcohol-related incident. He had another alcohol-related incident and he was kicked off the team. Coach Parker said that it was an alcohol problem, and that he had asked the player to get treatment for the alcohol problem.

Here’s what Coach Parker did not say.

This allegation is extremely serious, and I am very concerned. Sexual assault is a very serious crime. Too often these stories are laughed off or shrugged off, or never even told to anyone. While of course the judicial system is the appropriate place to try this particular case, I want to make clear to everyone that we do not tolerate sexual assault at our dorms or at our university. I am speaking for the university here—and for better or for worse, I am a prominent face of this university—when I say that we work very hard to make an environment where every student, male or female, is safe. Every accusation of sexual assault must be taken seriously and investigated fully, and I support the police department in this investigation and in any such investigation. I will be talking to all my players—again—about this issue, and making damned sure that every single one of them is aware that no means no, whether you are drunk or sober. And yet sexual assault of exactly the kind alleged here takes place in our country every week. We will be redoubling our efforts to raise awareness and do whatever it takes to make our campus safe for everyone.

I don’t know what Coach Parker actually thinks, of course. I don’t know if he agrees with the stuff I just typed, which seem to me close to unarguable. Maybe he would be appalled by my suspicion that he thinks this was not a big deal, that it’s just a drunken kid doing what drunken kids do, and that the problems here are alcohol and breaking the team rules. Maybe he is just reluctant to say anything that makes it sound as if he believes the allegation, while his erstwhile player still faces trial. Maybe it’s not even reluctance; maybe he is grudgingly following the advice of university counsel, whether it’s good legal advice or not. It seems, though, as if he isn’t worried about that RA at all. And I am worried about her, and about the next victim.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

Comments

While I have no idea what Jack Parker said to the men on his team, or what they inferred from what he didn't say, but I feel it's important to pass along the news that Boston University men’s hockey defenseman Max Nicastro pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape at a Brighton District Court arraignment Tuesday morning.

Two points: (1) I don't have any idea whether Mr. Nicastro or Mr. Trivino are guilty of the crimes with which they have been charged. And (B), the two men are morally responsible for their own actions. But also (iii) Jack Parker ought to have said much more than he said, and ought to be saying much more than he is saying.

Sexual assault is common on our college campuses. It's disgusting that we have continued to allow that to be the case.


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