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The Rutgers Scandal: Bullying and Slurs on Campus

This letter appeared in The New York Times on April 5, 2013

April 4, 2013

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times


To the Editor:

Lost in all of the clamor over the sudden firing of the Rutgers men’s basketball coach, Mike Rice, and what the controversy means for the school’s aspirations toward becoming a Big Ten powerhouse is a more fundamental question of how physical abuse and bigoted speech became part of the normal routine of team practice.

The homophobic slurs and abuse that Mr. Rice hurled at his players during practice did not happen in a vacuum. They came after the heartbreaking suicide in September 2010 of Tyler Clementi, a gay freshman at Rutgers whose harassment by fellow students sparked a national discussion about the consequences of cyberbullying and homophobic attitudes. And they raise questions about what, if anything, Rutgers learned from that tragedy.

It is time for officials at Rutgers and other universities with top-flight athletic programs to take more forthright action to confront a climate of acceptance for homophobic speech, bullying and physical intimidation. Coaches, administrators, faculty members and student leaders need to step up as well and to make clear that physical and verbal abuse and bigotry have no place in collegiate sports, or anywhere on college campuses.

Sincerely,

Barry Curtiss-Lusher
National Chair

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