Running on empty

Saturday’s Globe and Mail contained shocking details about an athletics coach who allegedly groomed Megan Brown for sex beginning when she was a 17-year-old high school student. The relationship continued after she enrolled at the University of Guelph and trained under his tutelage. In 2006, her father informed the university about what was going on; nothing happened. Once the details were published last weekend, the university suddenly found its voice and apologized on its website that same day for the “deeply troubling” article. The coach, Dave Scott-Thomas, has denied any wrongdoing.

On Monday, university president Franco Vaccarino emailed Brown with an apology. The school also issued one of those all-points-bulletins along the lines of “if anyone else suffered ….” Why not a personal visit to Brown ? Or a scholarship in her name? Anything to suggest that the University of Guelph will forever honour Brown and her travails.

I grew up in Guelph and I’m embarrassed about these circumstances even though I haven’t lived in the city since 1963 when I went off to the University of Western Ontario. Anybody with anything to do with the University of Guelph – students, faculty, alumni – all must feel ashamed on some level. And so it is that institutions lose their lustre, a sad situation that diminishes respect on a wide-ranging basis.

None of this marks the end of civilization as we know it, but it certainly represents the decline of civility in society today. Or have similar incidents been going on for centuries? The Roman orator Cicero repeatedly deplored what was happening in the world around when he said in speeches: “O tempora! O mores!” (Oh, the times! Oh, the customs!) But still, every once in a while a revelation comes along that troubles you on a deeper level. The blandishments of the misguided can all too often bring much misery to others.





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