Dalhousie University rugby club violated hazing policy, sanctions imposed

Members of Dalhousie University’s rugby club have been found in violation of the school’s hazing policy after a formal complaint was made by an employee last September.

HALIFAX — Members of Dalhousie University’s rugby club have been found in violation of the school’s hazing policy after a formal complaint was made by an employee last September.

Details of the complaint have never been made public, but the school in Halifax said Thursday that the Dalhousie Tigers Men’s Rugby Club would remain suspended from play for the remainder of the 2014-15 year.

The suspension is one of three sanctions against the club in addition to five conditions that have been placed on it before it can resume play in 2015-16.

The university says club members who attended events on Sept. 20 are required to attend education sessions on hazing awareness and prevention, as well as the harm alcohol can cause.

No academic penalties are being imposed.

The club’s suspension will be removed for next year if it agrees that a committee consisting of team members and university representatives will select a new club executive, with prospective executive members interviewed and asked how they would address hazing.

All members of the club must attend education training on hazing awareness and the harms of alcohol, and develop an event plan for the entire year.

They must also agree to ban alcohol from all team events and cannot enter into agreements with alcohol companies.

“Dalhousie is committed to being a safe, respectful and inclusive place to learn and play,” the school says in a statement.

This is the second time the school has investigated complaints against one of its teams after the women’s hockey team was sidelined in 2013 over complaints of heavy drinking and humiliating behaviour.

It also recently began inquiries into the behaviour of 13 male dentistry students after they were linked to a Facebook page containing sexually violent content about women.

After the complaint about the rugby team became public, the school wouldn’t provide details about the nature of the complaint, who filed it, where the incident occurred or who was involved, but said it was serious enough to warrant a suspension of the team’s privileges.

The school said it also stopped the club’s funding and insurance under the Dalhousie Sport Club Handbook.

“We expect our student-run sport clubs to adhere to their obligations in the Sport Club Handbook, and will not tolerate behaviour that humiliates, disrespects or threatens the safety of individuals in our community,” Dalhousie says in its statement.

The rugby club was already on probation for misbehaviour, but the university also wouldn’t provide any details, except that it was related to a non-hazing incident during a recent trip. The club had about 50 players on two teams when it was placed on probation.

The school adopted a new policy last April that includes zero-tolerance for hazing in any form.

Athletes are also subject to the Sport Club Handbook, which says coaches and advisers are expect to ensure teams adhere to university policies “especially those related to hazing, alcohol and harassment.”

Executives for sports teams are required to do online training on hazing and participate in education sessions on the policies in the club handbook. The school has said the rugby executives participated in those.