Domestic violence covered for athletes by student conduct code

Greg Chow
Sports Reporter

The NFL is under the microscope as some of their players are either suspended or in trouble with the law. They’re learning that while bashing people on the gridiron may be okay, domestic violence isn’t.

The issue is back in the spotlight as the NFL revealed itself as having a weak policy in dealing with spousal abuse in the wake of the recent Ray Rice case, where a hotel security camera revealed the running back had knocked his then-fiancee unconscious with a punch to the face.

But spousal or partner abuse can happen anywhere.

While Ontario athletics spokespeople were hesitant about speaking directly about domestic violence, they say that the issue can be dealt with by their code of conduct and ethics.

Humber does not have its own domestic violence policy, but its code of student conduct does highlight many aspects such as assault, harassment and bullying.

“We have a standard in which the students must represent themselves, they have social media guidelines, and very clear expectations of how a student is to behave when representing the college,” says Humber Director of Athletics Ray Chateau.

“We have a lot of reinforcement, we have alumni and returning student athletes who can self-police,” he said.

It’s not just the athletic department that plays a role in the success of helping student athletes with staying clear of these types of issues. The Student Success and Engagement department has also worked with the athletic teams.

There is a lot of the stress of being a student and an athlete, especially with Humber’s sterling reputation for having outstanding varsity players who not only perform during game time, but also in the classroom, said Lara Hof, manager of Humber’s Community Judicial Affairs.

“We did a specific workshop with the coaches and captains just to give them some resources about what they can do, if ever in a situation and how to offer support to someone not specifically for domestic violence, but even mental stress or everyday stuff,” said Hof.

Colleges including Humber follow a set of rules set by the Ontario Colleges Athletics Association (OCAA). Though not specifically mentioning domestic violence, the rules outline proper behaviour, how to represent oneself away from school, including games away from the school, and anywhere else where a student athlete may be representing their college.

Rob Kingston, who works in the executive office of the OCAA said domestic violence is “nowhere near something we (the OCAA) would comment on.” Kingston said the OCAA cares about the issue but has confidence in all its member schools to respond to such issues appropriately.

The schools adhere to the same policies, but with so many different disputes, the association must rely on the individual institutions to deal with conflicts.

Humber does have its own code of conduct for students. There is no difference in rules of student conduct for varsity athletes and others unless a student athlete directly violates an OCAA rule or code.

As student athletes though, there are some regulations that the Humber Athletic department emphasizes to help prevent possible domestic problems from even occurring. In accordance with Humber regulations, Chateau said student athletes must represent Humber appropriately wherever they are, and police themselves and other athletes on social media.

“I think our guidelines are set, our code of conduct is very clear, and I’m comfortable it captures any and all circumstances if an athlete were to violate that student code of conduct,” Chateau said.