Towson Cheerleading Team Involved in Hazing
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BALTIMORE (WNEW/AP) — A Baltimore-area university’s national championship-winning cheerleading team gave new members alcohol and told them to wear adult diapers in a hazing incident that resulted in a semester-long suspension, school officials said.
The Towson University cheerleading team was initially suspended for the 2013-14 academic year, but the punishment was reduced to a one-semester social suspension after the team appealed, officials said in a report following an internal investigation.
Under the suspension, the team was allowed to practice, but barred from making appearances, according to the report, which The Associated Press obtained Wednesday through a Freedom of Information Act request. Dated April 17, it was first published by The Baltimore Sun.
University officials ordered an investigation of the incident in August 2013, after receiving an anonymous call about the hazing, according to the report, which said veteran cheerleaders blindfolded freshman team members, gave them alcohol and instructed them to wear adult diapers over their cheerleading shorts.
The school charged the team with three violations of its Code of Student Conduct including the hazing policy, serving alcohol to students under 21 and endangering student health and safety, the report said.
The hazing took place on July 31, 2013, the report said, when new freshmen were invited to an off-campus apartment during cheer camp. The freshmen were asked to choose between heroin and cocaine, but no drugs were provided. The team later told investigators that the question was posed in an attempt to convey the team’s drug-free philosophy, the report said. It did not elaborate.
The freshmen were then given a choice between taking a shot of liquor and funneling a beer. The new members obliged. The new team members were then led into a separate room where they were blindfolded, told to put on adult diapers and dance. According to the documents, some freshmen chose not to dance.
The investigative summary compiled by the university’s Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education shows that several team members confirmed details of the hazing but expressed the belief that it was simply a team-bonding exercise. Veteran cheerleaders told university investigators that each freshman paid $5 to attend the party, which they said is an annual event, the summary said. The cheerleaders also told investigators that they were unaware of the school’s hazing policy.
In addition to the suspension, the team was ordered to complete 650 hours of community service.
The university released this statement Wednesday regarding the cheerleading team:
“Last August, Towson University’s Office of Student Conduct an Civility Education was informed of allegations of hazing involving members of the 2013-2014 cheerleading team. The Administration followed university policies and procedures as it relates to the circumstances of this incident. Under guidance from our General Counsel and the Attorney General’s office we have complied with the law. We appreciate and uphold freedom of the press and as an institution we must follow the law which includes protecting the legal rights of our students, faculty and staff. We reiterate that Towson University has a zero tolerance policy for hazing.”
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