St. Michael’s College School reinstating football program after hazing scandal

A prestigious Toronto private school is reinstating its football team in the wake of an investigation into hazing and bullying that resulted in charges levied against some of its students.

Officials from St. Michael’s College School, an all-boys Catholic institution, said in a statement on the school’s website that “after much discernment and collaboration,” the school will reinstate the football program this fall.

“We ask for your patience and continued support as we work through the logistics involved within a restricted time frame,” the school said.

St. Michael’s refused an interview request from CBC News on the issue, saying the school had no further comment at this time.

An independent committee tasked with investigating systemic cultural issues at the school recommended in May that the team be reinstated this fall as long as the institution took steps to address bullying.

Seven students have been charged in connection with alleged incidents at the school, which police say took place on school grounds during last fall’s term and involved members of the football team.

In May, the school’s independent “respect and culture” review committee presented the initial results of surveys it conducted with students, alumni, teachers and parents, including 1,010 current students.

It found that 22 per cent of boys surveyed at the school reported being bullied, while 57 per cent reported witnessing bullying. Of those surveyed who either experienced or witnessed it, the majority reported associated distress.

St. Michael’s “is committed to working with the Independent Review Committee to implement its recommendations, including the proposed measures,” the school’s statement reads.

Those recommendations also include reworking the football program to make it a safer environment for students.

“These measures are designed to ensure that all students who participate in the football program — indeed, in the school’s activities more generally — can succeed in an environment that respects human dignity and equity for all, free from unsafe activities such as hazing or bullying.”

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