Sports, Top Story

BC Swim and Dive Program Members Allegedly Forced To Consume Their Own Vomit, Administrator’s Letter Says

Attendees at a Boston College men’s and women’s swimming and diving freshman event were allegedly instructed to binge drink and forced to consume their own vomit, according to a letter from an administrator in the Office of the Dean of Students.

The letter, sent to a member of the team and obtained by The Heights, also states that members allegedly engaged in underage drinking at two additional events. At one of these events, members were allegedly encouraged to participate in drinking games. 

The alleged incidents occurred at an off-campus house and two residence halls between Sept. 2 and Sept. 4. The letter explained that five Student Code of Conduct violations may have occurred, including hazing, alcohol policy, disorderly conduct, community disturbance, and complicity, according to the letter.  

“The adjudication process will include an investigation of the reports, followed by a hearing, after which a determination of responsibility will be issued,” the letter reads.

The Heights cannot immediately confirm how many other student-athletes received the letter. 

On Wednesday, BC Athletics announced it indefinitely suspended the program after administrators determined that hazing occurred. 

In a statement to The Heights, lawyers from Nesenoff & Miltenberg, a law firm specializing in campus disciplinary defense and representing more than 30 BC swim and dive program members, said BC Athletics falsely suggested that allegations of hazing had been substantiated. 

“To be clear, the university’s conduct office has just only begun and certainly has not completed an investigation into such claims, nor have any findings been made,” the statement from lawyers Andrew Miltenberg and Tara Davis said. “The issuance of this statement prematurely, and without having gathered all of the relevant facts, was not only negligent but also extremely harmful and damaging to the members of the Swimming and Diving program.”

The law firm sent a statement to BC’s general counsel on Thursday calling on the University to immediately lift the suspension of the swimming and diving program and issue a public retraction for the statement issued by BC Athletics on Sept. 20.

“It is distressing that the College has been so irresponsible in its public messaging,” the statement continues. “We are hopeful that the College will take all necessary and appropriate steps to rectify the substantial and ongoing damage caused to the student athletes,” the statement continued.

Associate Vice President for University Communications Jack Dunn explained BC’s position on the alleged hazing in an email to The Heights, writing that BC has suspended the activities of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving program after receiving credible reports.

Dunn also noted that in accordance with Massachusetts state law, the allegations of hazing will be referred to law enforcement.

“Based on the information known at this time, Athletics has determined a program suspension is warranted, pending a full investigation by the University,” Dunn wrote. “Consistent with University policy, the matter will be investigated by the Office of the Dean of Students and adjudicated fairly and impartially through the student conduct process. Once the investigation and adjudication process is complete, Athletics will reassess the status of the teams.”

BC’s letter detailing the alleged conduct violations, sent from Associate Dean of Student Conduct Melissa Woolsey, also mentioned that the recipient can request that one or more investigators interview other witnesses of his or her choice and consider any other relevant information they may have. 

“You may be accompanied by an advisor of your choice,” the letter, dated Sept. 19, reads. “Advisors may not ask questions, interject, coach, advocate for, or otherwise speak on your behalf during the hearing. If you plan to have an advisor present, you must notify the investigator(s) before your hearing.”

The letter reminds the recipient that the University’s policy prohibits making false statements or submitting false information knowingly during the adjudication process. 

The University also prohibits any form of retaliation against individuals who file a complaint or participate in an investigation or conduct process. 

“Please be advised that retaliation may include behavior such as: discouraging an individual from reporting an incident; discouraging witness participation; threatening, harassing or intimidating a participant in a conduct process; or intentionally causing negative consequences for a participant or for their personal relationships or social circles,” the letter reads.  

According to the letter, a staff member will be in contact regarding next steps. The recipient is also directed to BC’s student conduct website page to find more information about the student conduct system and community standards at BC. Other resources are provided at the bottom of the letter, including University Counseling Services, Athletics Sports Counseling, and the Office of the Dean of Students. 

Update (9/21/23, 5:57 p.m.): This article was updated to note that BC is referring this matter to law enforcement.

Update (9//22/23, 6:07 p.m.): This article was updated to add the statement from Nesenoff & Miltenberg.

September 21, 2023