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Dalhousie University Rugby Club Violated Hazing Policy, Sanctions Imposed

01/15/2015 12:50 EST | Updated 03/17/2015 05:59 EDT
Thomas Kitchin & Victoria Hurst via Getty Images
HALIFAX - Members of a Dalhousie University rugby club must develop ideas to help prevent hazing if they want to keep playing next fall.

The requirement is one in a series of sanctions and conditions placed on members of the 60-man club for violating the Halifax university's hazing policy in a Sept. 20 incident reported by a school employee.

University spokeswoman Janet Bryson said further details on the incident won't be released because "any section of the report could potentially identify individuals and it is the university's position to protect the confidentiality and privacy of students."

The incident involving the Dalhousie Tigers Men's Rugby Club is the second time the school has investigated complaints against one of its teams. The women's hockey team was sidelined in 2013 over complaints of heavy drinking and humiliating behaviour. Dalhousie also recently began inquiries into the behaviour of 13 male dentistry students after they were linked to a Facebook page containing sexually violent content about women.

Zane Robison, executive director of student life at Dalhousie, said after the hockey team's suspension the university created a more detailed hazing policy that included an educational session that the rugby club executive attended last March. Members of the club were required to view an online education session that explained hazing was prohibited, he said.

Somehow the message didn't "resonate" with the team, Robison said.

There are no academic sanctions for those involved, but the school will require club members to attend an education program, and also to participate in a program aimed at raising campus awareness about hazing.

The club can't return to the field if its members refuse to participate.

"We're going to look to the hazing committee and the (club) executive to provide some insight on why the team did what they did and what we can do to prevent it from happening in the future," said Robison.

"What can we do to develop education and awareness around hazing?" he added.

"That's where the insight of these particular individuals can provide some benefit."

The sanctions also prohibit the club from playing or practicing this winter and spring, and its members cannot enter into sponsorship agreements with alcohol companies or organize events that involve drinking.

If they fulfill these conditions, the club can resume play in the fall, said Robison.

Members of the club executive and team members contacted via social media and email did not respond to requests for comment.

Robison said the fact someone reported the rugby incident shows the new policy is working.

"The policy worked in that (hazing) was properly identified and reported. ... We're taking that away as a success," he said.

The school's hazing policy defines it as any activity that humiliates, abuses, endangers or subordinates a student, regardless of a student's willingness to participate in the activity. Anyone involved in hazing could face disciplinary action, including removal from a team.

Athletes are also subject to the Sport Club Handbook, which says coaches and advisers are expect to ensure teams adhere to university policies "especially those related to hazing, alcohol and harassment."

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