TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Drinking and diapers. The hazing allegations at Towson University are now public. The school’s top ranked cheerleading team was suspended for a semester following an off-campus incident.
Mike Hellgren has more on what the team encouraged its new members to do.
The website Deadspin called it the tamest hazing ritual ever. But many on campus are taking it seriously.
What were Towson University’s award-winning cheerleaders doing in an apartment off-campus that gained them national notoriety?
According to documents obtained by WJZ‘s news partner, The Baltimore Sun, in the hazing ritual, team veterans had freshmen drink beer or shots and then blindfolded them and made them dance around in adult diapers.
It’s the first time we’re hearing details of the hazing.
The scandal exploded late last year and initially got the team suspended for a year before an appeal led to a lighter punishment. And while, to some, dancing in diapers sounds harmless, many of their fellow classmates see it differently.
“Any form of hazing is bad and they shouldn’t have done it,” said Ida Khan, senior.
“With alcohol being involved, that kind of makes the situation a lot worse. Considering the girls are freshmen, a lot of them are not over the age of 21,” said Soronia Taylor, sophomore.
“Everyone knows what hazing is. Degrading anyone, especially your teammates, is just morally wrong,” said Melanie Bulavinetz, senior.
The cheerleaders insisted this was no big deal. It was just a bonding experience to bring them closer together. But the university has a no tolerance policy on hazing. They explained why in an interview with WJZ when the story first broke.
“You’re asked to do something you might not want to do, but you think you might have to do it because that is how you become a member of the organization. That’s the power dynamic that’s there,” said Jana Varwig, V.P., Student Affairs.
In the end, senior Stephanie Loverdy believes the team learned their lesson–an embarrassing one.
“Now that they’re educated, there really shouldn’t be a reason for it to happen again,” she said.
The cheerleading team contends no one was forced to do anything against their will, but they did apologize for their conduct.
The scandal first came to light through an anonymous tip to the university.
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