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Students Call for University Response After Kraft’s Charges

Prosecutors charged New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft with two counts of soliciting prostitution at a Florida spa last February—one of 25 people caught in a human trafficking probe. Kraft is a Trustee Associate of Boston College and serves on the Board of Governors for the BC Chief Executives Club.

Several student groups have called on the University to remove Kraft from his positions and end all associations to him. Another response that groups have proposed is that the University should publicly state exactly what level of association Kraft shares with BC.

Associate Vice President for University Communications Jack Dunn said in an email to The Heights that there is confusion surrounding the nature of Kraft’s ties to BC. He noted that Kraft does not currently hold a position on the Board of Trustees or any other governing body of the University.

“There is a Board of Trustees, and Bob Kraft is not a member of it,” Dunn said. “Bob Kraft served one term on the Boston College Board of Trustees from 2003-2007. Trustees who rotate off the Board are given the title Trustee Associate, in recognition of past service.”

The BC web page titled “Trustees & Leadership” does not explain the distinction in title and lists Kraft as a Trustee Associate. Another web page titled “Board of Trustees, Administration, and Officers” does not list Kraft as a trustee or mention his name.

The BC Chief Executives Club hosts several forums for business leaders in the Boston area. Each meeting typically features a keynote from a major CEO or entrepreneur. The University describes the Board of Governors as “a cross section of the city’s top business leaders, representing industries ranging from media to retail to finance to professional sports and more.”

The Chief Executives Club is affiliated with the Carroll School of Management.

On March 11, the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YSDA) of Boston College published a statement calling for Kraft’s removal from his position on the Board of Trustees, citing the alleged involvement of human trafficking at the massage parlor.

“Kraft’s solicitation of prostitution from an establishment alleged to be part of sex trafficking operation makes it clear he can no longer serve on the board or be associated with the university in any way,” the statement said. “There can be no equivocation on this matter. Either Kraft or the school’s claim that it adheres to a set of Jesuit Catholic values must go.”

Four days later, BC Rallying Efforts Against Contemporary Trafficking (R.E.A.C.T.) released a petition demanding that University acknowledge the issue of human trafficking and prostitution.

The petition also called for Kraft’s suspension—and removal, if found guilty—from all official positions at BC. Although it originally included reference to his role as Trustee Associate, R.E.A.C.T. updated the petition, saying that Kraft is not currently a Trustee Associate.

The Undergraduate Government of BC (UGBC) Executive Council invoked BC’s Jesuit identity and mission statement in a statement pushing the University to remove him from his position issued on Wednesday.

“Sex trafficking is a grievous human rights issue in the United States and abroad,” the statement said. “In order to adhere to its mission, we believe that it is the duty of Boston College to sever ties with any individual known to be complicit in such activity. Kraft’s actions contradict the Jesuit values of Boston College and should be treated as such, resulting in his removal as a Trustee Associate and as a member of the Carroll School of Management’s Board of Governors.”

YDSA of BC also published an exploration of Kraft’s ties to BC, including the creation of the Kraft Family Professor of Philosophy—currently occupied by Rev. James Bernauer, S.J.—and his ownership of the event security company TeamOps, which provides security at Boston College sports events.

Florida prosecutors offered a pretrial deal to Kraft and the others who had been charged. In exchange for dropped charges, Kraft would have to admit that he would have been found guilty, complete 200 hours of community service, take an education course on prostitution, undergo a screening for STIs, and pay $10,000. He would also have to submit a description of his activities in the spa.

Kraft pleaded not guilty on the two charges last week and asked for a jury trial.

Featured Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

March 31, 2019