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Derek Drummond, interim director of athletics, is a man known for his sense of humour and easy laugh. Today, however, when discussing the cancellation of the varsity football season following an investigation into a hazing incident, his tone is grave. "It was a hard lesson and we are determined that it make us better in the long run," he says.
McGill is introducing a series of measures to promote productive team-building in all sports teams and athletics, and to ensure that orientation activities across the University are based on mutual respect for others and appropriate behaviour. The new measures stem from an investigation that concluded earlier this month that the football team initiation night involved hazing, in clear violation of McGill's existing policies and the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures.
"At McGill, we must ensure that we live up to the very highest standards and these measures, coupled with renewed commitment to build a stronger university, will help us achieve that," Drummond said.
Measures include the strengthening of policies and regulations governing student conduct in regards to hazing; closer support, supervision and monitoring of student athletes; training university staff members to recognize the signs of hazing and its dangers as well as their responsibility to respond appropriately if they encounter students engaged in it; and two years of community service performed by the football team, including staff, to help repair McGill's damaged reputation.
Drummond's tone lifts noticeably when he talks about all the constructive steps being taken. "Rather than just issue a bunch of 'Thou shalt nots,' we are being proactive," he says. On top of preparing anti-hazing educational plans for personnel in Athletics and for athletes on all sports team, Drummond and his staff will be overseeing the implementation of healthy team-building measures in all teams and all activities
"Team building is important for our sports teams and our university," he says. "People just have to understand that positive team-building activities will actually make a team stronger." Drummond points to the men and women's hockey teams who recently went to the States to play exhibition games against Ivy League teams. "It sounds simple, but road trips, whitewater rafting, weekend excursions — they all bring a team closer together."
A former national champion squash player, Drummond knows firsthand the value of athletics. "We recognize that sports are essential to the university experience of the student-athlete. Inevitably, the best teams — the strongest teams — are those based upon mutual respect among teammates."
For a full list of the measures, please see www.mcgill.ca/newswire.