On Friday, September 1, Vice President and Dean of the College Paul J. McLoughlin II, informed the Colgate community via email of the decision to suspend the men’s varsity rowing team from all competitions during the fall season and from the first competition of the spring season due to hazing activities. The team will also be barred from competing in the postseason and will undergo mandatory education regarding high-risk drinking and hazing prevention.
Multiple allegations of hazing were made to the Dean of the College on Tuesday, August 29, and an investigation, largely consisting of interviews, was conducted on Wednesday, August 30, and determined that hazing activities had taken place. The team was found guilty and the decision was made on Thursday. The team was notified early on Friday, before the campus-wide email went out.
“We received multiple reports over a two-day period last week and acted quickly to investigate those allegations,” McLoughlin said.
Though the Dean of the College will conduct the ongoing investigation, decisions regarding the team’s athletic standing and season were made by Vice President and Director of Athletics Victoria M. Chun, ’91, MA ’94.
During Chun’s 10 years as Athletic Director, there has not been a team found guilty of hazing until now. This is the first team to be suspended for hazing in recent Colgate history. Chun was surprised by the allegations, and it was a difficult decision for her to make.
“I know these kids. We went to London with them, all of them except the first-years. So it was difficult. But we talk to all of our teams, every varsity sport and we tell them about hazing. What it is, what the ramifications are. Beyond that it’s the state law,” Chun said.
“They also sign a Student Athlete Code of Conduct. So I think that’s why it was so disappointing. Because it’s not something our student athletes don’t know about, or how we feel about it,” Chun said.
According to Chun, the team received the announcement of the decision respectfully.
“I think they were respectful. They listened. Of course they were disappointed but I think they were disappointed within themselves versus the actual decision,” Chun said.
In Colgate’s online statement, Chun stated that the actions from the men’s rowing team damaged not only their own team, but all other student-athletes on campus.
“It is imperative that our student-athletes uphold the highest standards academically, athletically and socially,” Chun said. “They fully understand that failure to meet these expectations is simply unacceptable, and is a disservice to all other student-athletes on our campus who are dedicated to doing the right thing every day.”
Chun asserted that this does not represent a change in Colgate policy or a harsher enforcement. This is simply the first time that the policy and procedure was carried out with regards to a sports team. McLoughlin also shared this viewpoint.
“Colgate has always taken hazing seriously; after all, it is prohibited by our Student Code of Conduct and is illegal in New York State. The decision to investigate the allegations and to move to resolution quickly is in line with past practice and our future intentions to eliminate this behavior from our community as quickly as possible,” McLoughlin said.
In the end, the email also called on students to help and be active within their communities in order to prevent hazing in the future, reiterating particular steps on how to report hazing activities and hold other students accountable.
“These behaviors will not stop until students call on themselves to end them. Hazing, high risk alcohol and other drug use, sexual violence and bias-related discrimination will not be eradicated in our culture until and unless students hold themselves and each other to higher standards. Alongside prevention education, your collective actions are the necessary ingredient for change to occur at Colgate,” McLoughlin said.
In an effort to eliminate hazing from Colgate’s campus, McLoughlin urged students to look toward healthier outlets. McLoughlin directed students towards resources that stress the importance of creating safe and unified atmospheres on campus, specifically the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
McLoughlin explained that since his email, the reaction to the decision to suspend the men’s rowing team has been largely positive.
“To date, I have received several notes from faculty, staff and students acknowledging and thanking us for the firm stance we have taken against hazing and the accompanying message notifying the community of the university’s decision,” McLoughlin said.
Chun also found that reactions to her from parents and alumni have been positive as well.
“Actually [the decision has been received] very well,” Chun said.
Members of the men’s varsity rowing team could not be reached for comment.
Contact Sarah Anderson & Gaby Bianchi at [email protected]