Hazing News

Drinking cited against 14 Cortland teams; hazing against two varsity teams and three clubs

All: Cortland is using education and the judicial system to try to combat hazing, according to news release below:

Cortland statement:

Two varsity SUNY Cortland athletic teams and three recreational sports clubs have received sanctions from the institution following an internal investigation by an ad hoc committee looking into potential hazing violations. The committee, which is finalizing its report, determined the violations were of a non-criminal nature….

That committee was created in July by President Erik J. Bitterbaum after SUNY Cortland administrators were informed that pictures posted on personal Web sites revealed Cortland student athletes engaged in apparent hazing activities….As a result of the findings, the Athletics Department will impose a 10 percent reduction in regular season games against two programs, women’s lacrosse and women’s softball, for violating the department’s rules against hazing…

The teams will have an opportunity to reinstate one of its games by performing community service in the form of an approved presentation to area schools about personal information posted on websites…

The Board investigated 16 club teams and found three sport clubs — women’s softball, women’s rugby and women’s lacrosse — in violation of engaging in minor hazing by requiring new team members to compose songs, perform skits and wear tee shirts with handwritten profanityThe Sports Clubs policies define hazing as “any intentional, knowing or reckless act occurring on or off the SUNY Cortland campus, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student, that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliation with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization whose members are or include students at SUNY Cortland.”

The women’s lacrosse and women’s softball sports clubs each received three years probation, eight hours of community service, $50 per person fundraising sanctions and mandatory attendance at a presentation on hazing to be offered by the assistant director of Recreational Sports this semester. The women’s rugby sports club received one year’s probation, participation in a community service, and $50 per person fundraising sanctions.

Additionally, the Board found 14 teams had violated the Sport Clubs’ zero tolerance policy regarding alcohol and underage drinking. No club teams were suspended. Thirteen received sanctions that included probation, approved community service and fundraising for a memorial scholarship named in honor of former recreational sports club member Kristen O’Neil. One club team received four years probation, eight hours of approved community service, $50 per person fundraising, all travel suspended for the year and requirement of a non-student coach to be in attendance for the next four years, due to the severity of evidence of underage drinking.

“All SUNY Cortland students who appear to have violated the Code of Student Conduct with regard to underage drinking and/or hazing will be referred to the Judicial Affairs Office,” said Levine. “This whole process has caused the College to reflect upon its policies and the need for more education with regard to hazing,” she added.

The College hopes that these incidents will become a learning experience for its students, said Levine.

“One of the main purposes of the college judicial system is to educate students and re-direct behavior that is potentially harmful,” explained Nan Pasquarello, director of judicial affairs at SUNY Cortland. “We are looking at these incidents as an opportunity for our students who are found in violation of college policies to learn and make better decisions in the future.

“Hazing, in a number of degrees and forms, has become part of our social fabric, not just at SUNY Cortland, but also at high schools, colleges, and universities around the country. Hazing is not limited to just athletics and social fraternities and sororities. We need to address the potential harmful effects of initiation activities that may be perceived as harmless by members of groups.”

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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