Open Letter to Craig Beemer

Dear Coach Beemer,

By now, you have surely heard about, or even read, the alarming story printed in this newspaper, entitled “Dresses, Drinks, and Misogyny,” (Commentary, page 7, February 2) concerning the conduct of your McGill rugby players. The story contains serious allegations of unacceptable language and behaviour that you should consider equally seriously. As the leader of this team, you owe it to the McGill community to provide your reaction to these allegations.

One hopes that your reaction to the use of this untoward language is shock and dismay. There is no place for the kind of sexist talk alleged in this story – not for these women, not for any. Too many people have worked too hard in pursuit of gender equality for such language to still be accepted.

Speaking of equality, this kind of repugnant language demeans men as well as women. Some say that “boys will be boys,” but this is precisely the problem. These “boys” are supposed to be maturing in programs such as yours, but, when they tolerate such behaviour, they forfeit the opportunity to demonstrate how rugby has helped them develop into men of character and leadership.

Sadly, character and leadership are precisely what these young men have shown themselves to lack. Your players allowed the sexist MC to speak for them in the name of manliness, when a truer demonstration of that trait would have been to stand up in opposition. Not one player, not even the fourth-years, showed any sign of protest, at least according to the report. It is often said that good leaders are good followers, but your players took that too far.

Perhaps your players demonstrated a lack of character and leadership that night because, in your program, those traits aren’t priorities. Your own mission statement says nothing about how the program attempts to develop character by challenging the players with heavy time commitments, arduous practices, and competitive games. Frankly, I would like to see that changed, and I’m probably not alone. In fact, those invested in the McGill brand – such as financial donors – are likely to take an interest in this story and wonder how University programs are preparing students for life after graduation.

I claim no special knowledge of rugby, but I am qualified to offer an opinion on the banquet: The lewd language allowed that evening does a disservice directly to the women and indirectly to the men involved in the event. If you forfeit this opportunity to consult with your team and respond to the community, you will be condoning the use of lewd language, and admitting that the scoreboard matters more to you than character development. I think the community expects better of you.

Michael Ethen completed his PhD in Music History at McGill. He can be reached at