A postseason playoff ban has been issued to the men’s and women’s club lacrosse teams for holding an inappropriately themed, club-sponsored party at an off-campus house on the weekend before spring break, according to club presidents Joey Volk, A&S ‘15, and Caroline Connolly, A&S ‘15.
Individual disciplinary action has also been issued by the Office of the Dean of Students (DoS) to leading members of both club teams for their involvement in the themed party, where members of the men’s team wore basketball jerseys and country music-inspired garb, and members of the women’s team wore similar outfits representing rap and country music cultures. The party required dressing up by adhering either to black hip-hop stereotypes, or a white country music theme.
Both club presidents, Volk says, acknowledged the insensitive nature of the party immediately, and when a member of FACES addressed the issue to both teams shortly after the incident, the two student groups worked closely together, forming what Volk said was “a plan of action to promote positive dialogue on how racial representations shown in media can be misrepresented, and ultimately insensitive when brought to life.”
The club presidents and members of both teams met with the FACES Council, where members of FACES held a seminar on race in the media, and racial insensitivity on college campuses. The club teams and FACES agreed to spread this presentation to every other club sports team, and several other student-run organizations on campus.
“I have been talking with members of FACES since we recognized this themed party was insensitive and wrong,” Volk said. “We were working on a way for not just the members of both team to address the core of this issue; we want to be advocates, and we want every single club sports team at BC to experience the same presentation we were given to by FACES.”
In addition to the team’s advocacy work, Volk and Connolly said that the club teams were working on giving up practice time to volunteer at an inner-city lacrosse program called Metro Lacrosse, which works to grow the sport in predominantly black and latino communities in Boston.
All of this, according to Volk and Connolly, was done without any prompting from Boston College administration, and without pressure from the club lacrosse teams’ governing body at BC, the Club Sports Council.
The Club Sports Council officially banned the postseason of both teams and the DoS issued individual disciplinary measures after they were notified of the incident. Volk and Connolly told The Gavel that in the preliminary parts of the disciplinary process, administrators told the duo that the scope of the sanctions would stay team-wide, and not involve individual discipline.
In a statement released through email, the FACES Council wrote, "We would like to commend the members of administration who reached out to students to hear their thoughts on the issue before making their decision. We will be reserving the rest of our comments for a Letter to the Editor or an Opinions piece."
In an appeals process, roughly 10 business days after the sanctions were issued, both presidents brought their “plan of action” to the DoS and Club Sports Council. This plan included the teams' advocacy efforts in conjunction with FACES and the Metro Lacrosse initiative. The appeal, received by a committee formed of administrators in various departments, was ultimately rejected.
“I respect the decision made by the Dean of Students and the [Club Sports] Council,” Volk said. “We know what we did was wrong, but it feels like we were getting punished just to get punished. We gave a proactive plan of action to the administrators that showed our grasp of our wrongdoing, and we feel that the punishment became the focus of discussion, not the educational, constructive aspect of this.”
Connolly shared the same stance as Volk. “I do understand why they’re holding us responsible and we deserve to be punished, but I did not expect that [punishment],” Connolly added. “I think the administration has an obligation to carry through with these punishments; but I would think that they would be more interested in making a proactive change.”
Volk said that the University has planned follow-up sessions for the individuals disciplined in the incident.
Under FERPA guidelines and University policy, administrators cannot comment on the sanctions or disciplinary outcome, but University spokesman Jack Dunn did confirm that the teams were sanctioned for a school violation.
Teddy Kolva contributed to this report.