Education

Cal Poly track team suspended for hazing, drinking and a sexually explicit scavenger hunt

What is hazing?

Hazing is any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.
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Hazing is any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s varsity track team has been suspended from competing in seven meets in March and April after the university confirmed reports that runners violated university policies on hazing and alcohol, a spokesman confirmed.

Investigations through the university’s Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities found that some senior members of the team engaged in hazing of newer members, according to Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier.

Team initiation involved “unsafe and inappropriate behavior,” including making alcohol available to underage members, coerced drinking, forced exercising, and a scavenger hunt that included sexually explicit items, Lazier said.

Team members who didn’t want to drink were instead made to do push-ups, he said.

“The university and the athletic department are holding the team accountable, and university officials are determining whether individual behavior violated the student code of conduct,” Lazier said in an email to The Tribune.

Hazing is defined by Cal Poly as a method of initiation or pre-initiation into a student organization or student body likely to cause serious bodily injury and “physical harm, personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm” to any former, current or prospective student.

The university’s anti-hazing policy has resulted in the suspension of at least two fraternities this school year.

In October 2018, Cal Poly disaffiliated the Asian-interest Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity for two years after an investigation determined pledges were forced to participate in unsafe activities, including knuckle push-ups and late-night ocean submersion.

Cal Poly’s chapter of the Sigma Pi fraternity was suspended in January due to accusations of hazing and underage drinking, according to the university.

The university suspended a chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity in February following an investigation that found the chapter engaged in hazing activities in which pledges were quizzed on fraternity history and then were required to do push-ups as punishment for incorrect answers. The fraternity also held events during its pledging process at which minors had access to alcohol, campus spokespeople said.

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Monica Vaughan reports on Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo County, oil and wildlife at The Tribune. She previously covered crime and justice in the Sacramento Valley, is a graduate of the University of Oregon journalism school and is a sixth-generation Californian. Have an idea for a story? Email: mvaughan@thetribunenews.com

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