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After much discussion, Senate on Dec. 6 approved a policy that forbids hazing and inappropriate initiation practices both on and off campus.
The policy, created in response to a hazing incident last year involving the McGill Redmen football team, sets out guidelines intended to assure the dignity, safety and well-being of any and all members of the McGill community and encourages athletic teams and student associations to opt for team-building exercises for new recruits.
"This is to guide students in planning and in understanding what is appropriate behaviour in a university," said interim Dean of Students Linda Starkey, who presented the policy to Senate, along with an appendix listing some of the activities the policy forbids, such as serving alcohol to minors or forcing anyone to participate in an activity.
Student Senators expressed reservations about the list, raising concerns that it could be open to interpretation. Senator Finn Upham voiced concern that students reading the list in the student handbook will not easily grasp what they "can and can't do."
Senator Adrian Angus took exception to the policy being enforceable not only on campus but ‘in a university context' as in the case of an athletic team meeting in a team member's home. "If it's a team event, then it's in a university context," explained Starkey, adding the Senate Committee on Student Affairs and the working group that conceived the policy were mindful of wording the policy to clearly indicate that its purpose was to ensure no member of the McGill community would be compelled or required by a group or association to engage in inappropriate, harmful or dangerous behaviour.
"This is an important policy that was given much thought and consideration," noted Starkey.
Student Senator Jake Itzkowitz — who said he and his fellow student Senators were generally happy with the policy itself — proposed a motion to hold a separate vote on the appendix. The motion was defeated and the policy was adopted by a vote of 29 to five.
Senate also approved minor changes in the wording of the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures prohibiting any student from assaulting, harassing, threatening or compromising the dignity of another person.