Humber Rugby: Reaction continues to teams’ suspensions, sexual assault investigation

Oct 6, 2015 | Campus News

By Nick Westoll and Mathew Hartley

Reaction from the Humber College community has been swift following news of sexual assault allegations leveled against Humber’s men’s and women’s varsity rugby teams.

Toronto Police Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu told Humber News on Monday that officers were called to the North campus last Thursday.

College security staff had received information that a sexual assault had allegedly taken place on Sept. 25, Sidhu said.

She also said a victim had not come forward and that there was no word on suspects.

Teams suspended

After officers were called, they learned through their investigation that members of both teams were allegedly involved.

Humber announced last Friday that the OCAA championship teams had been suspended owing to undisclosed violations of the school’s Varsity Code of Expectations.

Andrew Leopold, director of communications for Humber College, said staff were conducting an internal investigation, headed by the department of Student Success and Engagement.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be looking at what happened [and] who is involved,” Leopold said Monday when asked for details on the scope of the inquiry.

On Tuesday, Humber College President Chris Whitaker told Humber News he was scheduled to be briefed on the investigation in the afternoon.

Humber men's rugby team

Humber men’s rugby team in action on Sept. 25, 2015


Humber Student Federation President Ahmed Tahir said Tuesday that he was surprised when the suspensions were handed out and said he does not know what impact the investigation will have on the school’s reputation.

“I don’t know enough about what has happened, I don’t think it makes sense to comment at this point,” Tahir said.

Trophies removed

Both of Humber’s varsity rugby teams were crowned OCAA champions last season and the men’s team has been aiming for their sixth title in a row.

Humber Athletics have removed some of the varsity rugby teams OCAA trophies from their case and massage therapy student Tristan Boccitto said that will be hard for the players to take.

“Especially for previous players that won the championship – you don’t get to see your trophy up or see your picture. It sucks.” said Boccitto.

News of suspension last Friday

So far, there has been no further announcement from the school regarding the investigation after officials posted a media release last Friday.

Humber’s manager of sports and athletics Jim Bialek was asked about ongoing rugby investigation and, in an email response, said, “Respectfully, no comment.”

On campus Tuesday, Guelph-Humber Business student Tino Mermigas said he was concerned about the limited information he felt he was getting, so far.

“It’s a little frightening, actually, to think about not getting all the information and not knowing exactly what’s going on,” Mermigas said.

Campus safety

Tahir said that the Humber Students Federation continues to push several safety campaigns across campus.

“We have the student life line which runs 24-7 and tonnes of counsellors available,” he said.

“There’s been a huge focus on sexual assault on campus this year,” Tahir said.

Community response

Humber News reporters Nick Beare and Tonia Venneri took to Humber’s halls to ask students their thoughts on the teams’ suspensions.

With files from Nick Beare, Tonia Venneri, Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs, Katie Pedersen, Matthew Pariselli and Christina Romualdo