Court documents reveal details of alleged Boston College swim team hazing

Schools

Upperclassmen allegedly pressured freshmen to binge drink at a team event, instructing them to vomit into bags tied around their necks.

Boston College's campus is pictured.
David L. Ryan/Boston Globe

New court documents submitted by Boston College allege that members of the swimming and diving team told freshmen to binge drink, and that some freshmen vomited into bags they were instructed to wear around their necks at a team event.

The school’s indefinite suspension of the team following allegations of hazing is the subject of a hearing in Middlesex Superior Court on Tuesday. Thirty-seven members of the team are suing the school to lift the suspension, and for undisclosed financial damages. 

Ahead of the hearing, Boston College Athletics Director Blake James and Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Corey Kelly submitted affidavits sharing new details of the school’s investigation into the alleged hazing. 

According to the affidavits, Boston College received reports of hazing at a series of swimming and diving team parties over Labor Day weekend, and conducted an initial investigation based on interviews with 20 team members and evidence from photos, videos, and messages exchanged in the team’s group chat.

Per James and Kelly’s affidavits, the investigation “confirmed that hazing involving power dynamics and the excessive consumption of alcohol had occurred” at the Sept. 3 event. The administrators described students vomiting into bags around their necks, and other students passing out from binge drinking. They further alleged that underage drinking occurred at two other team events on Sept. 2 and Sept. 4. 

The affidavits did not describe team members instructing freshmen to consume their own vomit, as was initially alleged in a letter from the Office of the Dean of Students to members of the team. Boston College’s student newspaper, the BC Heights, obtained the letter in September following the announcement of the team’s indefinite suspension.

James’ affidavit further states that members of the swimming and diving team were found responsible for hazing in spring 2022.

The 37 student plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Boston College, 19 female and 18 male swimmers and divers representing all four undergraduate years, have accused the university of breaching its own Student Code of Conduct, defamation, “intentional infliction of emotional distress,” denial of basic fairness, and selective enforcement of Title IX in its decision to suspend the team.

The students say they have been publicly shamed, “stalked” by the media, robbed of their competitive season, and have suffered reputational damage that could hurt their job and graduate school prospects.

They further allege that by suspending the swimming and diving team indefinitely, Boston College is treating the co-ed team differently than it would an all-male team, in violation of Title IX.

In response, Boston College said the decision had “nothing to do with the fact that the team is co-ed,” and that the school has never experienced a comparable incident with an all-male team.

In an Oct. 17 court filing, the students, identified as Jane and John Does, said the school suspended the team based only on the allegation of hazing, without conducting a full investigation or determining that hazing had occurred. 

“That is wrong on both counts,” the school wrote in its Oct. 23 response, adding that it plans to interview all 68 swimmers and divers, collect more evidence, and hold conduct hearings for each of the 53 upperclassmen on the team.


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