A hazing incident at Cornell University that led to the temporary suspension of the university’s entire men’s lacrosse team included forcing underclassmen to chug so much beer that several members vomited, school officials announced. The school said that the incident violated not only university policy but also New York state law.
According to a statement posted on a section of the school’s website devoted to hazing incidents, the university was notified of the incident in question -- a “keg race” that was reportedly organized by upperclass members of the lacrosse team -- on Sep. 12. They haven't revealed when it actually occurred.
Officials said that the challenge of the rite was for underclassmen to outdrink one another. “The freshmen were told to stand in a circle and were tied together with string that was passed through their belt loops. They consumed a large quantity of alcohol to the point at which multiple members vomited,” the statement said.
“It’s a teamwide penalty for a teamwide incident,” Cornell University spokesman John Carberry said. “It involved coerced alcohol consumption by underage freshmen.”
The alleged hazing incident comes two years after George Desdunes, a sophomore member of Cornell’s former Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity died after a night of heavy drinking related to a hazing ritual. In a report on the university website, officials said: “Even though the members and associate members recognized the condition the member was in, they failed to call for medical care and abandoned him at that time. He subsequently died.”
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Three of the fraternity’s brothers were subsequently charged with hazing in the first degree but found not guilty, the New York Times reported. Since then, the university has reportedly conducted a rigorous crackdown on hazing. Sigma Alpha Epsilon lost its recognition for a period of at least five years.
Pending an investigation into the latest incident, the university announced that all Fall 2013 competitions would be indefinitely canceled, and that team members would be made to participate in mandatory antihazing education programs.
Rob Pannell, a former Cornell lacrosse team member who graduated in 2013, told Bloomberg news in a phone interview last week that hazing had not taken place when he was a member of the team and that he was skeptical about the reports.
“I’m having trouble believing that any hazing took place,” Pannell said. “In my five-plus years as a member of the Cornell lacrosse family, I can confidently say that no hazing took place. We’re a program many teams on campus strive to be like.”