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BU moves to clean up foul language at games

Now forbids swears, racist, sexist words

No swearing allowed. Quit the sexist and racist chants, as well.

And if sports fans don't stop, they will get tossed from the stands, Boston University officials are warning.

Terrier fans are particularly rabid at ice hockey games, where they wear red and white jerseys, paint their faces, and proudly proclaim their loyalty in loud and sometimes profane chants. They call themselves the Dog Pound and are known for taunting rival fans and insulting opposing players.

But university officials said yesterday that they have a new policy forbidding the use of swear words at BU sports events, along with racist and sexist comments. The penalty is expulsion from the sporting event, and it has enraged some students who say that cursing is practically tradition.

``That's terrible and an infringement on our freedom of speech," said Kendall Lyons, an 18-year-old sophomore who often takes part in the chants. ``Sports won't be fun anymore."

BU's dean of students, Kenneth Elmore, said the new policy was put in place after administrators received numerous complaints about the stream of obscenities coming from students at hockey games.

Complaints from fans and parents were particularly bitter in March, following the NCAA Northeast Regional final in Worcester, where archrival Boston College trounced BU 5 to 0 and where BU fans shouted a refrain that included an obscenity. The NCAA complained and suggested that BU officials do something about the bad language, Elmore said.

``We wanted to make clear that games should be spirited and lively," Elmore said.

``But standing and shouting obscenities does not have a place. I don't equate school spirit with the yelling of obscenities."

Stephen Burgay, a school spokesman, said the new policy was based on others adopted by schools around the country, including the University of Wisconsin and Ohio State University.

The policy, which will be printed on the back of tickets for all varsity sports events and in letters delivered to season ticket holders, will apply at all sporting venues, including Agganis Arena, where the university's ice hockey team plays; Nickerson Field, where the soccer team s play; and Case Gymnasium, where the basketball teams play.

The policy bans the use of obscene, racist, or sexist language. Violators of the policy will be removed from the event, and repeat offenders of the policy could be permanently barred from the arena, Elmore said.

Burgay said the policy was vetted by a lawyer working for the school who said the policy was reasonable and appropriate and did not violate the First Amendment.

In the past, Elmore said, fans expressed their enthusiasm by chanting, ``Rough `em up, Rough `em up, Rough `em up. Go BU."

However, in recent years, the Dog Pound has altered the cry to insult the rival team. Fans are most fervent for their traditionally strong hockey team, which has won four national championships and has sent many players to the National Hockey League.

``We call the goalie ugly a lot," Lyons said with pride. ``We'll tell him to put his helmet back on."

School officials hope spectators return to more wholesome cheers.

``I know our fans can be classy," Elmore said. ``I hope they can use cheers we can all participate in and feel proud to do."

Some students are not sure the policy will have the desired effect.

``I really don't know how they're going to enforce it," said Tim Sullivan, a 20-year-old junior, who waited with friends at an MBTA station on Commonwealth Avenue yesterday. ``The hard core fans . . . you're not going to stop them. . . . They're going to kick out the whole [student] section."

Elmore said ushers in the stands will listen and watch for violators. Elmore, who goes to many of the games, said he also will be vigilant. He said he will not sit among the more rabid fans until he is confident they have stopped their errant ways.

``I one day hope to sit with the students and be cheering with them," he said.

Fluto Shinzawa of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Maria Cramer can be reached at

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