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Men’s crew team suspended after Spring Fling shirt incident

Published: Friday, May 4, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 4, 2012 09:05

Article taken from the Tufts Daily Blog

See the Tufts Daily Blog for the most recent updates:

Read the latest post about President Monaco’s decision to overturn the suspension here:

POST UPDATED THURSDAY AT 5:40 PM: In a letter to the men’s crew team posted on the website of the Office of the President, University President Anthony Monaco has announced that the team’s suspension has been overturned, and that the team will be allowed to compete in this weekend’s New England Championships. Read President Monaco’s letter here:

POST UPDATED THURSDAY AT 11:28 AM: According to several people who heard or saw the text of the bias incident report that was filed, and wished to remain anonymous, the report stated that the shirts were offensive toward women and promoted a culture of rape and sexual aggression. Bias reports are generally made public on the Tufts Webcenter, but the most recent incident currently posted on the Webcenter occurred on March 31; Spring Fling was on April 28.

POST UPDATED THURSDAY AT 1:47 AM: According to Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman, the recent suspension of members of the men’s crew team in response to their Spring Fling shirts was a decision made by the team’s coaches, not by the university. It was not a university judicial action or an action taken by the Dean of Student Affairs Office, Reitman said, and thus it will only affect the rowers’ participation in this weekend’s New England Championships, not their university standing. However, the Daily has confirmed that a bias incident was filed, and is still investigating whether the university played any role in influencing the decision to suspend the rowers.

ORIGINAL POST: Wearing matching, custom-made shirts to Spring Fling with your friends is all fun and games — that is, until someone gets offended. The men’s crew team has learned that the hard way.

Image originally from
After a student anonymously reported the team’s Spring Fling shirts as a bias incident to the Dean of Student Affairs Office, the rowers involved were suspended for this weekend’s New England Championships, the Daily has learned. Neither the novice nor the varsity squad will have enough eligible rowers to fill a boat, and therefore neither team will compete this weekend. In addition, both teams’ co-captains — two varsity, two novice — were asked to surrender their captain positions. The rowers’ suspensions will be lifted before next weekend’s ECAC Championships, the last scheduled competition of the season.

The tank tops in question have the phrase “check out our cox” written across the middle, a reference to the “coxswain” (pronounced coxun) in crew who sits at the front of the boat and gives instructions to the other rowers. Below the words is an image depicting four rowers in a boat and a coxswain in front of them who appears to be shouting directions.

Tufts Director of Rowing Gary Caldwell declined to comment on the situation, other than to say that “it’s an internal team issue.” The members of the team have written individual letters of apology, which they gave to Caldwell to pass along to the Dean of Student Affairs Office.

On Tuesday, the popular website Barstool Sports: Boston posted an anonymous reader email about the incident, which states, among other things, that “some feminist reported [the rowers].” However, the incident was reported anonymously. The email also states that “the dean said the picture was too phallic and promoted aggression and rape,” though it does not specify which dean is being referred to.

The Daily is still attempting to reach the Dean of Student Affairs Office for further comment. This post will be updated if and when more information becomes known.

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