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Tufts Crew Team Suspended for “Check Out Our Cox” Spring Fling T-Shirts

The Tufts men’s crew team created a t-shirt for Spring Fling, an outdoor concert held annually that is a huge rager. Traditionally, Tufts student groups and cliques, including fraternities and dance troupes, make t-shirts for fun and to show solidarity among friends.

P.S. Spring Fling was awesome; ragers all across campus, and Lupe, the White Panda, and Guster performed.

So the crew team made t-shirts that said “check our our cox” above a picture of a boat. Cox is short for coxswain, the person who sits in the front of the boat and yells at the rowers and directs them. It’s clear that the shirt is making fun of the word and being funny as a double entendre.

However, the Tufts administration, apparently under disciplinary pressure from a dean, and the director of Tufts’ mens crew team suspended the entire team from racing at a championship event (the New England Rowing Championships) this weekend, and also removed two students from their captain positions because of the shirt.

According to the Tufts Daily blog, the Tufts Director of Rowing Gary Caldwell refused to comment, other than to say that “it’s an internal team issue.” They also reported that crew team members have written letters of apologies to the Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman.

The administration was also responding to a bias incident – at Tufts, there is a reporting system that allows students to anonymously report actions/words/pictures that “target a person or community”. According to Barstool Sports and confirmed by FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the dean said the photo was too phallic and promoted aggression and rape and was seen as unacceptable.

Recently, Tufts landed on FIRE’s Red List, which is meant to bring to light colleges that “have displayed severe and ongoing disregard for the fundamental rights of their students or faculty members and are the “worst of the worst” when it comes to liberty on campus.”

The following Facebook status has been floating around Tufts’ students Facebook pages:

“Suspending the crew team for wearing suggestive t-shirts on the grounds that they promoted rape culture is absurd. Beyond issues of basic free speech, suspending this team for wearing “check out our cox” trivializes the horrifying stories of survivors of sexual assault and undermines the seriousness of discourse around rape culture.”

So, what do you guys think? Do you think the t-shirts promote rape? Do you think that this is controversial speech?

These accounts and the story have not been confirmed by the University at the time that this article was published. Please keep this in mind as you think about and discuss the issue.

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  • mcshaq

    Absurdity. The dean is clearly responding to FIRE’s Red List label. Agree with Daisy in that by enforcing such a harsh punishment for these shirts, Tufts is trivializing sexual assault and rape. If anything, the tanks promote indecent exposure, which has been immortalized at a newly ‘Cac school in upstate New York. Tufts: Not smart.

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