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April 26, 2017

Cayuga’s Waiters Permanently Dismissed From Campus

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This post has been updated.

After a temporary suspension was put in place Sept. 2, Cayuga’s Waiters — Cornell’s oldest all-male a cappella group — has been “permanently dismissed,” according to the University.

During the investigation following the suspension, the organization was discovered to be allegedly involved in hazing activities throughout the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters.

These activities included requiring new members and non-senior members to “sit naked in an ice bath in a bathroom during an organization trip; apply Icy Hot to their genitals; and race up and down a street and then consume food,” according to the University hazing website.

Furthermore, the investigation found that these activities had allegedly been going on for at least 10 years.

Although there were “positive steps to ameliorate some aspects of the hazing activities and reduce elements of hazing rituals in the fall 2016 semester,” the effects of these changes were unclear because the organization was suspended two weeks into the semester.

Following the investigation, the University Hearing Board “levied a list of sanctions against the organization and lifted the temporary suspension.” However, the Office of the Judicial Administrator appealed this decision, claiming that the sanctions were “not commensurate with the violations for which the organization was found responsible.”

The University Review Board agreed with the OJA, and “modified the sanctions and permanently dismissed” the organization.

Although the a cappella group attempted to appeal the decision of the URB to the Interim President Hunter Rawlings, the president upheld the URB’s decision.

“This behavior [hazing] has no place at Cornell, and I agree with the URB that dismissal of the organization is appropriate,” Rawlings wrote on the University hazing website.

Mary Mueller ’18, president of A Cappella Advisory Council, said that although the Waiters have not been part of the ACAC in recent years, the council “does not condone any behavior in violation of the Code of Conduct” and stands by the University’s decision.

Senior Director of Media Relations John Carberry commented that this “step was not taken lightly.”

With 67 years on campus, the group was the campus’ oldest a capella group. Founded in 1949, the group was originally a subset of the Cornell University Glee Club. The group later disassociated from the Glee Club in 1956.

Having produced a total of 25 albums, The Waiters were especially known for one of their most popular songs produced in the mid-1990s, “We Didn’t Go to Harvard,” a parody of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Singing along to this song with the Waiters holds the number 4 spot in 161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do.

“We [the University] recognize that this organization has a deep history at Cornell,” Carberry wrote in a statement. “Still we must act powerfully to protect the current and future students of this University when violations of the Campus Campus Code of Conduct are established through application of the Code’s procedures,” Carberry wrote.