A few readers, graduates of St. Michael’s College, were upset with The Globe and Mail’s coverage of their school these past two weeks. Toronto police are investigating allegations of assault and sexual assault connected to the Catholic boys’ school after receiving multiple videos, and six students have been arrested.
These graduates aren’t denying the news or the need for coverage, but they felt it was unfair to suggest that incidents such as these have been rooted in the school’s culture for years. Their complaints centred on a personal essay published last weekend by writer Bill Dunphy, who attended the private Catholic boys’ school 50 years ago. He related several instances of teachers smashing textbooks on students’ heads and a good-natured punch in the stomach by another teacher, and said he was not surprised to hear the news. “Violence – more usually codified and abstracted and played out on the rink or gridiron – was a routine part of life at St. Mike’s.”
One reader who complained said that if anything like that happened when he was there, he would have known. Another said at no point during his time at St. Mike’s did teachers hit or abuse students. “St. Mike’s is an institution built on camaraderie and unity. … For the author to state that he is confident things have not changed because St. Michael’s is rooted in tradition … is lacking factual evidence.”