Last Friday two of Humber College’s top varsity teams were suspended and we still don’t know why.
There remains an acute lack of concrete facts. Yet at this point damaging rumours fill the halls of an incident of yet another sexual assault with the name Humber intertwined — although in this case without a cooperating complainant or victim. Allegedly last weekend our Humber men’s and women’s rugby teams held an off-campus house party. And days later a complaint was placed against the rugby teams, followed by Humber Athletics suspending both teams. The Toronto Police have now opened a sexual assault investigation involving the incident.
Humber News has had an incredibly tough road to cover this ongoing story. Humber College has been very closed-mouthed about the situation and less than completely cooperative with any student media; it has yet to address even the reasoning behind the suspension itself. And without Humber’s side of the story we have only speculation on where we stand as a school.
We have also have to think of our student body. If as a school we decide to keep situations like this behind closed doors, how can we feel safe? We have already had multiple sexual assault cases this semester and in late summer in the immediate vicinity of both the North and Lakeshore campuses. Humber has pushed security and support services, but isn’t transparency with what is happening at our college also a good security measure?
Yes, if there is a police investigation into the events, and particularly in the absence of a cooperating victim, there is reason to proceed with care in making public pronouncements. Until the facts of the incident are known, it would be unjust — and legally insupportable — to make specific accusations.
But this doesn’t mean the school needn’t share its administrative decision-making process up to this point. The suspension of the teams was announced without giving reason, casting a shadow on the school’s provincial champions without an explanation.
“Rugby programs have been suspended for alleged violations of the Varsity Code of Expectations, pending the outcome of an internal investigation,” the announcement ran. Further, “In light of privacy laws and the ongoing investigation, no further details will be released at this time.”
While the police have yet to reach conclusions about what occurred, Humber Athletics has clearly taken a position that the code was violated.
How was that conclusion reached? Why has the violation not been made public notwithstanding any possible criminal dimension to the case? Humber News has reached out to players for comments but has been left with no response.
Compounding the unease surrounding the official silence, the Varsity Code of Expectations openly urges players to keep varsity ordeals within the athletic environment.
“Do not share any information that could compromise your team,” the code states. “Make sure to keep quiet about all team strategies, injuries to your teammates, events that occur at practice or in the locker room. What happens in the locker room should stay in the locker room.”
Without breaking its silence, Humber is now subjected to all manner of speculation. With growing rumours, this story — whatever the eventual determination of facts — could be permanently damaging to our varsity teams and school. Before our name is tarnished,
Humber should address the problem and hopefully provide clarity. Without this clarity from either administration, players or coaches, we will not be able to move on with this story and in the end may be failing to protect our students, our institution, our ‘brand’.
Humber communications director Andrew Leopold has indicated that more information will be forthcoming by the middle of next week. Let’s hope his office follows through — and that this time, weeks after the original incident, there is some substance to Humber’s public response.