HALIFAX – Within weeks of the start of the fall semester, a Dalhousie University sports team is at the center of a hazing investigation.
The university is suspending their men’s rugby club after allegations the team violated the school’s hazing policy. The formal complaint was filed by an employee of the university.
“I can certainly say that we do not tolerate any behaviour that disrespects, that humiliates or that threatens anyone in the university community,” said Brian Leadbetter, Dalhousie’s director of communications.
“The hazing policy is a key mechanism to ensure that these behaviours – any type of behaviour – is not endorsed or supported by the university.”
The policy states the university has 60 days to investigate the incident. During that time, the men’s rugby club will not be able to represent Dalhousie or wear the university’s colours and uniforms.
The incident follows last year’s high-profile hazing investigation of the Dalhousie women’s hockey team. The team ultimately forfeited their season because nearly every member was suspended.
“When we talked about how this happened to the women’s hockey team last year, it was a huge thing. It was all over the news and it was all over Dalhousie,” said fifth-year computer science student Alexis Stevenson.
“Well, if we already knew this was an issue, why are sports teams continuing it?”
According to the university, all clubs and varsity sports teams were made aware of the hazing policy, which came into effect this year.
Leadbetter said club executives would have completed hazing-related training.
On campus, fellow student athletes said the rules were clear.
“We were told that no hazing was to go on. We weren’t allowed to do anything that was uncomfortable for the rookies and stuff like that,” said Nick Tweel, a member of the university’s swimming team. “So I don’t know why they decided to do it.”
News of the suspension spread on Monday as the university celebrated Pink Day at its campuses. Students, faculty and staff — many dressed in pink — came together for an outdoor BBQ to promote respect and tolerance.
Student union president Ramz Aziz said the issue of hazing is part of the greater dialogue organizers of Pink Day hoped to achieve.
“It ties into it absolutely,” he said.