A University of Ottawa hockey player is decrying his and his teammates' suspensions amid two ongoing probes surrounding allegations of sexual assault.
Patrick Burns, a defenceman with the Gee-Gees' men's team, was an assistant captain for two years and addressed an open letter to university president Allan Rock on Tuesday.
In it he says that, as he graduates this year, he feels "frustrated and betrayed" by the school after the team was suspended over the allegations in early March.
He lamented the decision was made before "any sort of investigation had even begun, let alone (been) completed."
He said he has already been presumed guilty by classmates and the general public "as a result of the predetermined assumption of guilt bestowed upon all 26 members of the hockey team by the university."
Burns, who claims he is innocent, went on to relay his disappointment that the school's sports services department had revoked his invitation to a March 26 reception honouring Gee-Gees athletes. His invitation to an athletic banquet on April 4 was also revoked.
On March 17, he wrote to the assistant athletic director asking the department to reconsider inviting him to the student reception, but he never received a response.
Then on March 24, he tried to speak with Rock, claiming he waited in the president's office for two hours before he was told that he wouldn't be in that day. Burns requested an appointment with Rock a day later but that, too, went unacknowledged, he wrote.
It is customary for the university to award graduating players their jerseys, but Burns can't be certain that will happen for him.
He wrote that on March 28, athletic director Luc Gélineau told him he stood by the decision to revoke his invitation to the reception, and that his graduating memento would be mailed to him, "if and when deemed fit."
"My years of dedication and my good name have been smeared by the very university I spent so much time working to promote," Burns wrote.
"As this semester ends, I leave the University not having been recognized for my accomplishments, but having had the door slammed behind me. And I am not the only one."
But none of the school's actions should come as a surprise, according to a university spokesperson.
Caroline Millard told the Ottawa Citizen that players were told at the time of the suspension that they could not partake in any Gee-Gees events, including the athletic banquet and the student-athlete reception.
They're also not permitted to use team facilities or be involved in any other school sports teams, she said.
The assault allegedly occurred while the men's hockey team was in Thunder Bay on the weekend of January 31 and February 1 and was reported to the university on Feb. 24.
Thunder Bay police are investigating, and an internal review is taking place at the university, The Ottawa Sun reported.
The hockey team will remain suspended until the internal review has been completed.
News of the allegations came just after Ann-Marie Roy, president of the university's student federation, went public with an accusation that a "rape culture" exists at the school after discovering a private Facebook conversation in which five men detailed sexual acts they would like to engage in with her.
Roy later received an apology from all five men, but she said she didn't feel that was enough.
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