Putting the F-Word on Ice

Boston U. students and alumni say a new anti-vulgarity policy unjustly paints hockey fans as racist or sexist.
September 13, 2006

Hockey fans at Boston University are a raucous bunch. Every game, hundreds of students paint their faces scarlet and white and come out wearing their lucky hockey jerseys to support their beloved Terriers. Alums, too, turn out in droves game after game. Almost everyone holds a special distaste for their longtime rival, the Boston College Eagles.

And for years, they’ve loudly voiced that distaste through vulgar chants.

It seems that whenever the foes meet, an excited BU student stands up to rally the following cheer: “Fuck ‘em up, fuck ‘em up, BC sucks.” The student band used to accompany the cheer with music, but quit a few years back after being admonished by administrators. Still, that hasn’t stopped the mantra from echoing through the 6,300 seat Agganis Arena, which is one of only a few college hockey venues where alcohol is sold and consumed during games.   

When the Eagles happen to be doing well -- like in March, when Boston College beat Boston University in an NCAA regional final game -- sometimes fans turn their wicked words toward Boston College’s head hockey coach: “Gerry York, Gerry York, he’s the meanest, sucks the biggest penis,” they scream. “Gerry York is a horse’s ass.”

After years of such language, administrators apparently have had enough. According to a report in The Boston Globe on Tuesday, they have instituted a policy that calls for university police to oust any fans who swear, or use sexist or racist remarks during sporting events. The article indicates that the policy has been vetted by a lawyer and does not violate First Amendment rights.

Many students and alums admit that the chants are vulgar, but some say that they are a tradition at the institution and should not be policed. Some also argue that including racism and sexism in any policy would cast an unwarranted negative light on students and alums.    

“We’re coming off as racist and sexist,” said Nick Cardamone, a recent BU graduate who now works with the student newspaper, The Daily Free Press. “I think that people know the line on those issues.”

While Cardamone doesn't believe that the university should approve of vulgarity, he said there is no need for administrators to be so heavy-handed. "I can sort of see why BU wants to change the image," he said. "But I don't think you can completely control it."

“You can always talk like that in your own home, like I do,” suggested Cardamone. He added that Boston College students usually do not engage in obscenities at games nearly as much as BU fans.

Colin Riley, a spokesman for BU, said Tuesday that the university had no comment on the issue. But Kenneth Elmore, dean of students at the institution, told the Globe that a policy has, indeed, been implemented. “[S]tanding and shouting obscenities does not have a place,” he told the paper. “I don't equate school spirit with the yelling of obscenities."

Riley said that Elmore was not available for comment on Tuesday.


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