McGill adopts a new, stricter hazing policy

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

A year after McGill University’s football team’s infamous “Dr. Broomstick” hazing incident was exposed to the national media, the school has begun creating a general policy on hazing.

On Dec. 6, McGill’s Senate voted by a margin of 29-5 to adopt a policy outlining inappropriate initiation behaviour for students. The list of unacceptable initiation practices includes whipping, simulated sexual acts and calisthenics unrelated to the actual sport.

“Hazing has always been a violation under McGill’s student code of conduct and disciplinary procedures, but it hasn’t been as clearly defined or clearly stated,” said Morton Mendelson, Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning at McGill.

“This policy allows us as a university to make a statement on where we stand on this set of activities, and to give this issue an appropriate level of profile.”

The school’s Board of Governors debates and votes on the policy in February.

Although the Senate adopted the policy by a large majority, student senators voted against it due to a disagreement with its appendix, which provides a list of unacceptable behaviour. Some items on the list include head shaving, providing personal service to senior members [of a team] and conducting interrogations.

“We tried to separate voting on the policy and the appendix to the policy,” said Aaron Donny-Clark, president of the Students’ Society of McGill University. “We wanted the appendix to go back to a committee stage.”

“The fear is that as student athletes or people involved in activities try and figure out what they can and can’t do, the policy isn’t going to give them a good answer,”

Mendelson said there shouldn’t be any issues with the appendix list, since the inappropriate behaviours in the policy must be taken in context and because students under investigation would be given a full hearing to defend their actions under the school’s code of conduct.

McGill doesn’t have an undergraduate representative on the BOG, which the SSMU is trying to rectify before to next month’s meeting.

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