Swim team suspended; conduct code revised

March 09, 2006, volume 35, no. 5
By Stuart Colcleugh

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SFU is taking steps to prevent future occurrences of the behaviour that resulted in the recent suspension of the Clan swim and dive teams from competing at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) championships March 1-4 in St. Louis, Missouri.

"We're revising our student-athlete contract to place even greater emphasis than we already have on our code of conduct," says recreation and athletics director Wilf Wedmann. "And we're also revamping our student orientation sessions to ensure that everyone is completely clear about what is expected of them. In fact we're already working within the spirit of this approach."

The university suspended both the men's and women's teams after determining that a house party involving 19 team members last September organized by senior swim-team members contravened the written code of acceptable conduct specified in team manuals distributed at the start of each competitive season.

The decision came after a month-long investigation by a panel of senior administrators from the registrar's office and the recreation and athletics department.

The panel found that seven rookie team members were led by senior members through numerous initiation events.

Wedmann says suspending the teams from the NAIA finals was a tough but necessary decision, noting that the men won the championship last year and the women came second. "We're proud of our swimmers and divers in terms of both their athletic and academic performance. But this type of activity is not acceptable and that was clearly articulated in years past and at the start of this year.

"We hate not going to the championships, but we dislike such unacceptable behaviour even more. From the feedback I've received, most of the team understands this now. And I've also heard positive comments from the public applauding our strong stand."

"SFU takes allegations of hazing, in whatever form, very seriously," says Nello Angerilli, acting associate VP-students and international. "As an institution we are committed to providing a safe, non-threatening environment for everyone in our campus communities."

SFU's is not the first case this year of team punishment for hazing. McGill University last October cancelled its football season after an 18-year-old rookie claimed he was sexually assaulted with a broomstick.

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