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Lawyers for BC swimmers and divers want suspension over hazing allegations reversed

The Boston College swimming and diving program was suspended when allegations surfaced that students were told to binge drink and consume their own vomit.

Members of the Boston College swimming and diving program are facing allegations of hazing. David L. Ryan/Boston Globe

Lawyers representing members of the Boston College swimming and diving teams are calling on the school to reverse course and lift an indefinite suspension of the team that followed allegations of hazing. 

News of the suspension first broke last week. Student publication The Heights obtained a letter sent by an administrator that reportedly contained allegations that members of the teams were told to binge drink and consume their own vomit. 

In response, BC issued a statement saying that the teams were suspended because officials determined that hazing had occurred, according to The Heights and the recent letter from attorneys at the law firm Nesenoff & Miltenberg. 


BC issued an updated “clarification” a day later, saying instead that there were “credible reports of hazing” that warranted a program suspension and a full investigation. BC stressed that the matter would be “adjudicated fairly and impartially through the student conduct process,” and that the status of the teams would be reassessed following the investigation and adjudication process. 


In a Sept. 21 letter addressed to BC’s general counsel, lawyers representing 28 members of the teams said the university erred by making the first statement. 

“Over the past twenty-four hours, the Athletic Department’s inaccurate statement has generated significant attention from the Boston College community as well as local and national media, directly causing reputational, social, mental, and emotional harm to the members of the Swimming and Diving team and creating a hostile environment for the student athletes on campus,” the lawyers wrote. 

The student-athletes and their parents were not aware that a public statement was imminent when the first statement was issued, according to the lawyers. The decision to release this statement was negligent because it falsely claimed that the hazing allegations had been substantiated, they wrote. They called on BC to issue a public retraction of the statement and lift the indefinite suspension pending completion of any investigation.

In response, BC said it was undeterred. 

“Boston College is not at all swayed by threats of legal actions from the program’s parents. The University will continue to follow its procedures and treat any allegation of hazing with the utmost seriousness. Given that the investigation is ongoing, the University will not comment further on the matter,” spokesperson Jack Dunn said in a statement to Boston.com. 


Since the initial statement was issued, the student-athletes have had their reputations “permanently tarnished,” faced “ jeering and hurtful remarks by their peers,” seen “hateful” social media postings and been “pursued” by journalists seeking comment, according to the lawyers. Members of the teams are afraid to wear their swimming and diving apparel around campus for fear of retaliation, and “are becoming increasingly concerned for their safety and well-being,” they said.

Specifics on the allegations are sparse. Students were allegedly encouraged to participate in drinking games, and underage students consumed alcohol during these incidents. Some were told to binge drink. The alleged incidents happened at an off-campus house and in two residence halls between Sept. 2 and Sept. 4, The Heights reported. 

The lawyers representing the student-athletes also said BC made a mistake by “unilaterally” imposing an immediate suspension of the swimming and diving program. Citing BC’s student code of conduct, the lawyers said that interim administrative action is only appropriate when the Dean of Students determines that a student threatens the “health, safety, or well-being” of the BC community, threatens to “impair the effective functioning” of the university, or has been charged with a “serious criminal offense.” There has been no indication from the university that these criteria have been established, the lawyers wrote. 


In the following paragraph, the code of conduct states that “Interim administrative action is not a disciplinary sanction. It is intended to help protect the University and members of the community until a matter can be investigated, adjudicated, or otherwise resolved.”


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