2013-14 Academic Year
Below are the reports of Cornell hazing violations that occurred during the indicated academic year. To read the details, simply click on the name of the group, team, or organization below and open the corresponding report.
On September 12, 2013, the Department of Athletics and Physical Education received information informing them that the new members of the men’s varsity lacrosse team were being hazed by the upperclass members of the team. The investigation revealed the presence of a culture within this group of treating new members as less than equals. The freshmen were expected to perform menial tasks, including chores and other duties that went above and beyond those expected of the general membership. Additionally, they were expected to spend a large amount of time with the other members in both lacrosse-related and social situations planned by upperclass members of the team. At one such social gathering, upperclass team members organized a “keg race” in which underage freshmen members, aided by seniors, were challenged to drink a large amount of alcohol (beer) in a competition against other team members. The freshmen were told to stand in a circle and were tied together with string that was passed through their belt loops. They consumed a large quantity of alcohol to the point at which multiple members vomited.
On September 13, the Cornell men's varsity lacrosse team was placed on temporary suspension, pending the outcome of the investigation. Immediately following the conclusion of the investigation and determination of the hazing infractions, the team was notified that all Fall 2013 competitions had been canceled. The team will participate in anti-hazing education programs and workshops and those members negatively affected by the hazing incidents will be provided support.
On March 5, 2014, the Fraternity and Sorority Life Staff received a report of hazing activities involving Chi Psi Fraternity. Sources within the fraternity, whose identities will be kept confidential, reported late night activities at the fraternity house which included being blindfolded, pushed around and yelled at; specific additional cleaning requirements of new members; memorization of large quantities of information not pertaining to legitimate fraternal knowledge; oral quizzes in an atmosphere intentionally created to cause high levels of intimidation.
The fraternity was on Provisional Recognition status, a probationary status, at the times of the report and subsequent hearing for being found responsible for hazing violations the previous year. As a result, the case was heard by the Fraternity and Sorority Review Board.
After a thorough review of the facts, the Fraternity and Sorority Review Board unanimously agreed that the fraternity failed to comply with the University Recognition Policy, specifically the section that makes clear that chapters "will not implement or tolerate hazing." The Dean of Students accepted this finding and the recommended consequences, which included the withdrawal of University Recognition and the benefits bestowed.
The fraternity appealed to the Vice President for Student and Academic Services. She upheld the findings of the Review Board, but amended the sanctions to include a two year revocation of recognition, allowing the fraternity an opportunity to apply to return to active status after one year, should the chapter meet the following conditions:
- there is acknowledgement by members of the organization of the inappropriate behavior that occurred this year;
*In May 2015, former student leaders of the fraternity privately and publicly acknowledged that they were responsible for all acts they had been accused of and apologized.
- there is demonstrated leadership among the undergraduates and alumni to advance the understanding of what hazing is under current New York State law and campus policy. (The number of discussions I have had, primarily with alumni and parents that dismiss the severity of mental distress or describe hazing only in terms of physical pain and intoxication, is both frightening and disheartening.) There exist many avenues where such involvement can occur.
*The fraternity has clear plans to address this broadly with students and alumni, and sustain the education efforts into the future.
- there is a publicly stated commitment to the revised, four-week new member program that allows information to be transmitted and bonds to develop but there is no exercise of the power dynamic that is the remnant of the old pledging model. The chapter must use its founding values as fundamental to their activities ... all of their activities. Furthermore, line-ups of any form will cease to exist.
- the ten point plan (developed by the fraternity the year prior in response to the hazing violations at that time) is implemented in full.
- Following the two years of lost recognition, or a year of lost recognition and a year of probation (if they so qualify), the organization may apply to return to campus. If accepted, they will be eligible to return under provisional recognition status for a period of two years before they may qualify for full recognition status.