Volume 92, Issue 33

Tuesday, November 3, 1998



Hazing report line sparks football sanctions

By Sabrina Carinci
Gazette Staff

Western's Hazing Report Line has proven helpful in fighting campus crimes, especially those involving swallowing live goldfish.

As a result of the hotline, reports of football orientation initiations have been revealed, said Darwin Semotiuk, chair of intercollegiate athletics at Western.

According to Semotiuk, such initiation practices included swallowing live gold fish and attending a local bar wearing nothing but a jock strap and footwear.

These initiation pranks, which directly violate the university's code of conduct that prohibits any activity which may "produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule," were cause for the implementation of six sanctions early last week, though the incidences behind them were not revealed until this weekend.

Pete Hill, University Students' Council VP-campus issues, who administrates the hotline, said although he was unable to disclose the information within the the call, only one call has been received by the hotline and that was in early September.

"I can neither confirm nor deny what was said in the call – you're welcome to speculate, but I'm forced to keep confidentiality," he said.

According to Hill, the report line acts as a deterrent and as a report collection system to provide students with a service to report instances of ridicule and despair. "I can't break the trust – out of respect for the complainant," he said.

Peter Mercer, VP-administration at Western, admitted although the mentioned initiation practices were learned through the report line, they are not necessarily the only accounts. "I certainly haven't heard of others," he said.

Mercer explained although the final sanction states orientation practices will be suspended for football players, he is unsure how far it will be carried. "During Orientation Week, students are required to wear different coloured t-shirts – this may be considered to some as an orientation practice," he said.

According to Mercer, the sanctions are attempting to alleviate traditions which have been formed. "Customs change. In 1998, we have a different view of what's acceptable," he said.

Kristie Leabitt, a third-year geography student at Western, said she believes the sanctions placed on the football team are fair. "If it's harmless, then there's nothing wrong with it, but going naked to a bar might offend some people," she said.

Sheila Elvin, a third-year French student at Western, said although the university has attempted to put an end to initiation practices, they are evident everywhere and probably will not stop. "It's a part of the university experience. It happens at almost every university."

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Copyright The Gazette 1998