Mike Rice and Prevention Policies #FAIL

Screen Shot 2013-04-04 at 8.13.04 AMVideo of Mike Rice screaming at, pushing, and throwing basketballs at student players has gone viral. How did the video become public? NBC reports: “Because whatever spat that Rice got into with former staff member Eric Murdock couldn’t be resolved cordially. Murdock did not have his contract renewed by the university, so he blew the whistle. He went to Rice’s boss and tried to get him fired. When that didn’t work, he went to Outside The Lines and made sure that the world saw the video, because if the world didn’t see the video, Rutgers was going to do nothing more than smack Rice on the wrist and sweep this under the rug.”

Time will tell how long it takes Rutgers’ student players to learn to spell c-l-a-s-s a-c-t-i-o-n. Where was Rutgers during all of this? Rutgers has a university wide workplace violence policy  firmly in place that failed to protect the students in Rice’s charge. Two out of three of definitions in their policy fit the video Murdock made public and gave Rutgers the freedom to fire Rice as soon as the first severe complaint was made. This policy also applies to ALL of the adults who witnessed these actions:

Workplace violence is defined as any actual or threatening behavior of a violent nature, as understood by a reasonable person, exhibited by faculty, staff, student employees, or others within the scope of this Policy. Examples of workplace violence include, but are not limited to:

 1. Intentional physical contact for the purpose of causing harm (such as slapping, punching,  striking, shoving, or otherwise physically attacking a person).

 2. Menacing or threatening behavior (such as throwing objects, waving fists, damaging  property, stalking, or otherwise acting in an aggressive manner; or, using oral or written statements specifically intended to frighten, coerce, or cause distress) where such behavior would be interpreted by a reasonable person as being evidence of intent to cause physical harm to individuals or property.

I think the saddest part of all this is that in 2010 Rutgers instituted PROJECT CIVILITY in an attempt to change the culture of the campus and create a national template for change. What will it take to make change?

For Rutgers, the answer to “civility” as a reinvented and reclaimed term has been a resounding YES! Project Civility has tested the hypothesis that a two-year, intentional community wide dialectic could encourage small acts of courtesy, compassion, and respect that would result, over time, in noticeable changes in our campus culture. The hope was to produce a campus culture very aware of civility, integrity, and a citizenry that respects all cultures and persons. The goal of year one was to produce a vocabulary and deep discussions and conversations, across the academy, on multiple aspects of civility and collective community responsibilities. These intentional and thoughtful communications, programs, panels and debates certainly have raised awareness and reflection. In fact, several colleges and universities have looked at Project Civility as a national model and Rutgers has become a catalyst in the national debate. Moreover, the entire Rutgers community has rallied and participated in exploring the complexities of social and cultural layers that impede and contribute to a culture and true commitment to civility. However, it is too soon to determine if Project Civility has had a long-term effect to reduce acts of hostile encounters, bias, bullying, violence and incivility. What has become evident is the fact that thousands of students, faculty, staff, parents and broader communities have thought twice, three times, and more about their actions. At Rutgers University, we have begun to explore more empathic and respectful ways to live and learn together.

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