One could write a book about what the men’s ice hockey team has meant to the Boston University community; in fact, some people already have. A story of similar length and complexity could be told about what the same team as meant to the Boston University community in the past year. Nicastro, Trivino and Party Like a Puckstar might come up more than a few times, as might the legacy of Jack Parker. But the reaction of the outside community–Boston-area bloggers, alumni, or students at other colleges–might be interesting to examine, too.
Boston University hockey is, without a doubt, an institution within the City of Boston. The team has won 29 Beanpots, seven hockey East Conference Championships, and five national championships, the most recent of which was in 2009. The hockey team is a financial institution as well; Agganis Arena seats 7,200, and though not every seat is filled at home games, there is a long-time fan loyalty that promises that many will be. Scalpers stand outside the arena for most games. Tickets prices are free for students with the sports package, but prices for anyone without range between $15 and $26. Then there’s the cost of merchandise and food. Terriers Hockey, like any major collegiate sports dynasty, is its own industry.
So for a school without a football team, hockey is the closest thing that Boston University has to a unifying linchpin–at least in a traditional sense. Some have said that the centrality of the hockey team has led to an elevated level of privilege that has facilitated assault.
A 2004 study at Rutgers University led by Sarah McMahon examined the effect of student athlete status on attitudes towards sexual violence. In the brief, she noted that:
The aspects of male student-athlete culture found to be rape supportive in this sample include the fostering of a sense of privilege and entitlement for male athletes; the sanctioning of violence and aggression within the context of sport with possible “spillover” effects; the use of derogatory language to describe women in team settings; and the belief that there are certain circumstances where sexual violence is “unintentional” or the victim’s fault.
As forces on-campus grapple to find meaning and solutions in this mess, off-campus forces have been just as eager to comment on the effect this will have on the BU legacy.
Mike Eruzione, a Terrier alumnus and member of the Olympic All-Star team, expressed shame at the alleged actions of the former team-members in an interview with Channel 5 and praised the task force for its swift intended action. “I’m a hundred percent behind the task force. Let’s find out. If there’s something going on that that program, then we need to find it, get rid of it, and move on.”
Alumni response has has included a similar call to action.
Most of the response to the task force has been positive.
But others have chosen to be skeptical.
Still others have expressed that a task force just isn’t cutting it.
Proposing to end the season might be a bit extreme–neither Trivino nor Nicastro have yet had their days in court. The Terriers beat University of Vermont this weekend 3-2 in Burlington. They’ve made it to the finals, and this Friday they return to Agganis for the first game since Sunday morning’s arrest.
But BU alumnus and blogger Ross Levanto calls for action beyond what the task force has already promised: increased consideration for victims, zero-tolerance policies, and, yes, a change in culture. Levanto’s post also notes the fact that the task force will not release its investigation until summer, which he calls a “brilliant PR move,” because “next summer the task force can issue a slap on the wrist. The players allegedly involved in the recent incidents will be long gone from campus; chances are the women involved will be, too.”
While the reaction to the efficacy of the tax force has been less than united, the reaction to the recent misconduct of the hockey team was overwhelmingly one of rage. But whether or not this will result in any sweeping change beyond a brief, internal investigation and a press release of results over the summer is up in the air.
Because as far as BU hockey is concerned, the Twittersphere this weekend was business as usual.