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McGill investigates complaint

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Published: 21 Sep 2005

Statement on initiation activities.

Statement issued September 21, 2005

The first stage of an internal investigation into a complaint regarding initiation activities at McGill University has been completed and a report submitted. The report makes ten primary recommendations, including that the University's existing anti-hazing policies be strengthened and that measures be implemented to ensure that team-building at McGill is based on positive activities that do not involve any inappropriate behaviour.

University investigations are on-going into the roles individuals may have played with respect to the complaint. The investigations will follow University procedures to ensure that all sides are heard and that the rights of all involved are respected. Every appropriate action will be taken.

Recommendations include a zero-tolerance policy in the Student Athlete Code of Ethics and educational measures to ensure that all students and staff are fully aware of their responsibilities in fostering an environment of respect for others. Such measures could include requiring varsity athletes to sign individual commitments to live up to the Student Athlete Code of Ethics.

The investigations were launched by the University when a complaint was received from a student about initiation activities at the end of August on one of our athletics teams alleging inappropriate and disrespectful behaviour. We are taking this complaint very seriously. Hazing is inconsistent with the University's values and it will not be tolerated.

In the past few days, there has been a great deal of media speculation generated about the nature of the complaint. It is important to set the record straight on some of the most misleading statements. While the complaint must be treated in a confidential manner, we can confirm that it does not refer to any nudity, alcohol or drugs, as some journalists have reported. In addition, incorrect information about those suspended has also been reported.

There has also been incorrect information in the media about measures taken against team members: in this regard, the coach suspended one player indefinitely and five for one game for breaking team rules.

Statement issued September 19, 2005

McGill University is committed to excellence in teaching, learning and research and to fostering a community founded upon the fundamental dignity and worth of all of its members.

Each member of the McGill community shares responsibility for respecting the dignity of, and giving fair treatment to, all our members. Moreover, each person is responsible for promoting and maintaining an equitable environment free from harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination prohibited by law and of ensuring that respect for others guides all our activities and relations.

Inappropriate, disrespectful or aggressive behaviours, including hazing, are not tolerated at McGill.

We are currently investigating a serious complaint from a student about initiation activities on one of our athletics teams alleging aggressive, inappropriate and disrespectful behaviour. This occurred despite the fact that the coach had warned the team beforehand that he would not tolerate such behaviour during initiation activities.

As soon as the coach became aware of the complaint, he took action and, based on information gathered, immediately suspended one student indefinitely from the team and subsequently suspended others.

University investigations are ongoing with respect to all dimensions of the complaint and resulting from these every appropriate action will take place.

We are taking this complaint very seriously. Hazing is inconsistent with the values held dear in this University and it will not be tolerated.

The Guide for McGill Varsity Athletes states (page 6):

Teams may have team socials in relation to the formation of their team provided they are performed in a manner that respects an individual's human rights and integrity and in no way can be perceived as demeaning by the individuals involved. Events that have forced participation, have alcohol or narcotic consumption, require nudity, place a person in a compromised position/situation, or involve general hooliganism, are not acceptable. It is recommended that teams consult with their coaches to discuss any initiation plans that are being considered. Club sports representatives are to inform the Manager or Assistant Manager of Intercollegiate Sports of their plans.

The Code of Student Conduct, Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities, also prohibits inappropriate or disrespectful behaviours, as well as those that could endanger the well-being of another person, and spells out the disciplinary process in force at McGill.

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