A case of hazing at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland involving a group of cheerleaders has resulted in suspensions for the 2013-2014 academic year but was later changed to a one-semester probation that prevented them from cheering. The case has shed new light on hazing and the national problem plaguing college campuses.
An internal investigation found that a group of cheerleaders hazed an incoming group of girls joining the squad. The hazing included blindfolding the girls, making them wear adult diapers and dancing.
Reports stated that freshmen on the team had been invited, and attended an off-campus party where they were told that they could say no to anything they were asked to do. In one instance, the girls were given the option to either do cocaine or heroin.
"Although no drugs were provided, this was done to let the new members on the team know that the team was drug free," investigators wrote in the report obtained by the Baltimore Sun.
The freshmen girls were then given the option to either funnel a beer or do a shot of hard liquor; once that was over, they were blindfolded and given adult diapers to wear over their shorts. The girls then danced in front of the group gathered at the apartment.
After the report was published, the elder cheerleaders apologized for their actions but insisted that no harm came to the girls and they were just participating in "team building."
"Although it may have seemed that this evening had a negative impact on the freshmen, the intent was to bring the team closer together," the members wrote in response. "There was no goal in mind to make anyone feel uncomfortable or inferior. All team members made choices they were comfortable with."
Hazing has become a larger problem for college officials trying to keep students safe. None of the cheerleaders have spoken about the events that transpired, or their punishment. Towson University insists that it has a "zero tolerance" policy for such practices.
"First and foremost we want our students to be safe, and that's physically and emotionally and psychologically safe. We don't want a [university]-sanctioned organization to do anything that jeopardizes our students' safety," Vice President for Student Affairs Deb Moriarty told the Baltimore Sun.