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Millersville hazers return; sexual assault accuser refuses to go ahead

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LancasterOnline.com

Millersville University finds women engaged in hazing
Lacrosse players barred from fall play

By MADELYN PENNINO, Staff
Intelligencer Journal

Three Millersville University women’s lacrosse players have been reinstated after allegations of hazing at an off-campus party last winter.

In a statement released Thursday, the university said its judicial review committee found that three players violated university hazing policies at a team party in February by taking embarrassing photos of some of the newer players.

In addition to a two-week suspension, which the students have already served, the athletes are required to develop a program on hazing and present it to fellow student athletes.

The entire team also will have to perform community service and is barred from competing in practice games this fall.

The team’s spring-break trip to Hilton Head Island, N.C., to play three matches also has been canceled. The team will resume its regular season in March.

Last week, the university reinstated nine football players who were suspended from the team after allegations they were involved in a sexual assault at an off-campus party Labor Day weekend.

Police dropped their investigation when the alleged victim stopped cooperating with investigators and said she would not testify against the players.

Lacrosse coach Barbara Waltman said Thursday she believes the sanctions are appropriate.

“I think it’s fair and equitable,” Waltman said.

She said though the team is not competing in games this fall, it continues to practice four times a week at Pucillo Field.

Waltman said she will meet with university officials to discuss how much and what type of community service the team will perform.

None of the women, who were immediately suspended after the pictures came to light, faced academic sanctions, Waltman said.

The photos surfaced on ncaahazing.com, a NCAA watchdog group that calls for NCAA to adopt rules to protect student athletes from harmful activities.

The photos in question show athletes with beer cans duct-taped to their hands, with drawings of genitalia on both their shirts and faces, using tampons as curlers and playing a “pin the lips on the coach” game.

A message of “have fun with the rookies” on a dry-erase board also could be seen in some of the photos.

According to MU’s student conduct code, all students and student organizations are subject to disciplinary actions if they engage in hazing.

The code prohibits “hazing or harassing another for the purpose of initiation or maintaining group affiliation.” It defines hazing as “any action that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student, with or without his/her consent or causes discomfort, embarrassment or ridicule.”

Since the incident, Waltman said she has encouraged players to act responsibly.

“I basically went along the lines that they made a poor decision,” Waltman said. “But I told them to use that decision as a learning experience and be accountable for what they did.”

Waltman said though she was “not pleased” about the incident, she isn’t discouraged as a coach.

“(When you’re a coach) you’re working with young adults,” Waltman said. “They know the rules. They might not like them, but hopefully they will make the right decision and act as role models for the younger athletes.”

Millersville University athletic director Peg Kauffman said that since the football and lacrosse team incidents the athletic department as started a committee to review department policy and implement programs to address such issues as hazing.

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PO Box 1328, Lancaster PA 17608, (717) 291-8811

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. 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 new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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