Men’s rugby suspension raises questions about what is and isn’t hazing

Published by adviser, Author: The Rocket Staff, Date: September 16, 2016
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The Rock men’s rugby team was recently suspended for three years by the university following a lawsuit in which a player’s mother accused members of the team of hazing her son, which she claims led to him withdrawing from the university for poor academic performance. According to the male’s mother, who found pictures of her son engaging in recreational activities involving alcohol, her son would not have done so poorly in class had his friends on the rugby team not allegedly forced him to drink.

Being a college student, especially a freshman, comes with multiple scenarios where a young adult could make the conscious decision to drink alcohol, and this could come with or without the pressure of his or her peers. Clearly, there is a fine line between hazing and falling victim to peer pressure.

By definition, hazing is the practice of rituals and other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation to initiate a person into a social group. At many colleges throughout the United States, hazing can absolutely get out of hand, sometimes going as far as students being forced into unfathomable and heinous physical activities. At many bigger universities, you’ll hear stories involving hazing that are far cloudier and scarier than what was accused here.

The biggest disappoint in this entire situation is that the rugby team was punished far too harshly for a situation that really didn’t seem like a college hazing situation at all. It’s easy to understand that the university found it necessary to step in and sanction the rugby team, considering it was a matter that led to court involving a club on campus, but at this point, SRU punished the wrong people.

The men’s rugby team is a  popular club on campus with roughly 20-30 students involved on each semester’s roster. Taking away the men’s rugby team means roughly 30 young men have lost an outlet and are now unable to play a sport that they fell in love with since coming to SRU. Also, because rugby is a very uncommon sport to have in city youth leagues and high schools, for many students, a college having a rugby team is a large factor in choosing their institution of higher education. It’s not wrong that SRU wanted to punish those who were directly involved in the incident, but it doesn’t feel right that the innocent members of the team can’t play rugby anymore because of the mistakes of a small few.

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