Read my column in the Toronto Globe & Mail from 2005 when the incident happened: Hank Nuwer
Here is the incident that ended the 2013 McGill football season. Apologies are due D’Arcy McKeown by McGill’s Athletic Director: Moderator Hank Nuwer’s Opinion
How could players charged with sexual assault still play football for McGill? Yeah, that’s the question: Moderator Hank Nuwer
Here is the excerpt from today’s article. And a big thank you to D’arcy McKeown and his father for speaking out. To this day I remember my anger lashing out at a smalltime sports blogger who revealed the name of D’Arcy back in 2005. There has been talk of a countrywide law needed in Canada to curtail hazing. This case should be on the desk of every voter and politician in Canada.
Few know first-hand the fear and humiliation felt by Jonathan Martin, the allegedly bullied Miami Dolphins NFL player.
Or the courage it took for Martin to finally stand up to his locker-room tormenters.
D’Arcy McKeown knows. And then some.
In 2005, as an 18-year-old freshman football player at Montreal’s McGill University, McKeown raised hell after being sexually assaulted with a broom handle in a deplorable “Dark Ages” hazing ritual perpetrated by a group of veteran players.
The now 26-year-old son of investigative TV journalist Bob McKeown (of CBC’s The Fifth Estate, and formerly of NBC’s Dateline) sat down with QMI Agency on Friday in downtown Toronto, his first interview on the subject in years and only the third he has granted.
McKeown shed new light on that heinous night at McGill, as well as on his subsequent heroic stand that made national headlines that autumn. He also shared his thoughts on the Dolphins scandal.
“I don’t think that hazing or bullying toughens up a person on the field at all,” said McKeown who, like Martin, was an offensive lineman in his playing days. “That will sooner rip a football team apart than bond it.”
Born in Toronto, McKeown grew up mostly on Manhattan’s upper-west side, as his dad worked for CBS News and NBC’s Dateline. A Yale grad, the elder McKeown had played for five years on the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders in the early 1970s before launching his award-winning journalism career.
Here is my October 5, 2005 op-ed column for the Toronto Globe & Mail
If recent allegations prove true, sexual hazing has been a barbaric ritual of choice for McGill University’s football team. However, despite increasing media attention since the early 1980s, few educational institutions have faced the sordid reality that males sometimes assault or sodomize other males while hazing.
The dark truth is that some athletes, even some coaches, feel they have the right to certain excesses. Hazing is one of those excesses.
Most hazing is non-criminal. Indeed, many sports programs have positive initiations or no initiations at all — or, albeit foolishly, confine hazing to rookies wearing silly clothing or doing acts of servitude. However, about 20 per cent of all athletes endure acts that fall into the category of severe, even criminal, physical or mental abuse, according to a 1999 U.S survey.
These incidents are disturbing. Recent sexual-hazing cases involving U.S. athletes have seen rookies sodomized with pinecones, fingers, pencils and broom handles — even to the point of rectal tearing. Female sexual hazing and simulations are rarer but do occur. Fraternity and sorority hazing has seen at least one death every year in the past 35 years.
Some educators put on hazing-prevention forums for athletes, fraternities and general student populations across North America. Fraternities, suffering way more deaths than do sororities and athletic teams, have educated new members for years, although sometimes all the efforts go to waste when undergraduates and alumni haze behind house doors.
Silent until recently, the collegiate athletic powers that have been mobilized to stave off the alcohol-fuelled parties, partial nudity and assaults linked to hazing. In September, the U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association finally addressed hazing in its national newsletter. Last June, the U.S. National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics attacked hazing in its general session.
Yet while anti-hazing activists and campus watchdogs urge coaches to keep an eye out for hazing in locker rooms, team buses and training camps, many coaches say policing is impossible.
When a McGill athletics director told The Globe and Mail, “You can’t follow them around with handcuffs, watching what they’re doing every minute,” his view generally reflects, rightly or probably wrongly, what is said in coaching offices.
History shows us that only widespread student disgust at hazing, when student leaders with perceived status suddenly find hazing uncool, can make any real difference. Before 1930, deaths of U.S. collegiate freshmen and sophomores during college orientation initiations were more common than initiations deaths in fraternities. But when high-status students in the 1920s protested against hazing, the intensity greatly diminished and only one death has occurred outside a fraternity since.
Can there ever be an end to hazing, which was once a shameful Canadian staple in junior hockey and collegiate orientation? Having written about hazing since the mid-1970s, I see the following as essential to curtail hazing:
Annual surveys by colleges to assess the scope and range of hazing by high-risk groups on campus.
Zero tolerance, expulsions and charges for criminal hazing involving nudity, alcohol or sexual abuse.
Educational programs teaching bystanders on campus how to confront and intervene when a dangerous hazing is in progress.
A means for students and faculty to report hazing anonymously.
Banishment of alumni, including former athletes, who encourage players to maintain hazing.
A change in attitude to see those who report hazing as heroes, not primarily victims.
Public condemnation of faculty members who have abdicated their responsibility to oversee the social activities of undergraduates.
The firing of athletic directors, coaches, campus police, faculty and college presidents proved to have known about criminal hazing without taking steps to punish it.
McGill’s won’t be the last blue-chip program to have a hazing scandal.
A respect for human rights must replace human rites.
Hank Nuwer, a professor of journalism at Franklin College in Indiana, is the author of four books on hazing and a contributor to Making the Team: Inside the World of Sport Initiations and Hazing by Jay Johnson and Margery Holman.