TORONTO – A short video of a frosh initiation ritual at Ryerson University has caused concern among university officials and some students.
The video shows Ryerson engineering students wearing just underwear while crawling through the snow.
At one point, a man is seen slapping the buttocks of a female student.
The ritual is used by engineering students to make younger classmates earn their “covies” – or coveralls – that are worn when they become frosh leaders in the fall.
Greg Renouf, a Toronto writer who filmed the event and posted the video on YouTube, called the ritual “unacceptable.”
“I think it’s pretty unacceptable to ask students to undress and run around,” Renouf said. “So I came here and saw it happening and was a little bit shocked.”
While the Ryerson Engineering Students Society insists the event was voluntary, the ritual is drawing the criticism of university officials.
“When you have a group of students doing an activity like that, that most people say is degrading and another group of students yelling and watching. It crosses the line into hazing,” Heather Lane Vetere, Vice Provost for Students at Ryerson University said.
One Ryerson student who took part in the event but did not want to be named told Global News that they hope to take part in the ritual again next year.
“The people who did it are upset because we had fun and don’t want to be told we can’t do it again next [year],” she said.
However, not all engineering students are in favour of the ritual.
“It’s abuse. To me it just seems cruel. It shouldn’t be happening – well, not just to engineering students but students in general, period.,” Ryerson engineering student Harita Mehta said.
Hazing has been a problem at other universities across North America.
In October 2010, Andrew Bartlett, a volleyball player at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick, died after taking part in a hazing event involving alcohol.
In November 2011, Florida A&M University student Robert Champion Jr. died after being beaten on a school bus as part of hazing ritual.
Ryerson University officials will be meeting with the Ryerson Engineering Students Society on Monday to discuss the incident.
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