“Sexual assault” has been a trending topic at Boston University as of late, mainly due to the high profile cases against Corey Trivino and Max Nicastro, both players on the university’s hockey team, who were charged within months of each other for varying degrees of sexual assault. (The rape charges against Nicastro were dropped. Trivino pleaded guilty to assault and battery charges.) The incidents prompted BU to form a “Task Force on Men’s Ice Hockey,” which consisted of a mix of faculty, staff, and students who got together and tried to figure out how this could have happened at BU.
Earlier this week, BU published the task force’s report, which found “that a culture of sexual entitlement exists among some players on the men’s ice hockey team, stemming in part from their elevated social status on campus,” as well as a lack of disciplinary structure from the adults that surround the team.
In far more detailed confidential subcommittee reports, obtained by the Globe last week, a female student reported that a hockey player “shoved his hands down her pants” despite her physical protest, and when asked why she didn’t report it, she said,
“that’s just what [BU hockey players] do.”
There are many more details revealed in those reports— players using derogatory language to refer to women, the kegger the team had in Agganis Arena that included naked puck-shooting and sex in the penalty box—but it ultimately says a lot about how that culture has contributed to the team’s apparent predatory activities. What the report fails to do is to clearly outline why the recognition of this culture is so important to BU’s community as well as to the communities we will all join when we graduate.
The actual number of people on the men’s ice hockey team is a drop in the bucket of a huge campus. But their high profile status means that this sexual entitlement—this rape culture that they are nurturing—trickles down to the rest of the population.
That woman who had a player put his hands down her pants and didn’t report it because “it’s just what they do,” is going to carry that experience for the rest of her life, and it’s going to inform the way she acts when her friends come to her with similar stories. The men who emulate these players are going continue this practice of slut shaming, and will view women as conquests and things to be had, not people to know.
So, yes, this culture of sexual entitlement has been identified for a relatively small number of students, but it is a toxic culture and it seeps into all the corners of the campus.
These reports don’t just talk about the three-dozen hockey players that it claims to have investigated. It is the recognition, long time coming, that what we were letting be okay— what we were letting be normal—is wrong.
And it’s time to fix it.