October 2, 2013

New Cornell Website Catalogues Organizations’ Hazing, Misconduct

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The University has launched a new website where it will catalogue the misconduct of groups in an attempt to increase transparency about student organizations’ violations of the Campus Code of Conduct.

Travis Apgar, associate dean of students, said the website was created as an additional resource for prospective group members and as a response to community pressure for more effective communication around misconduct on campus.

“The transparency this site provides serves the community as an educational tool,” he said. “For organizations, the postings will serve to inform them of the community standards and how groups have been held accountable.”

The site states that, in the previous school year, the University found 17 organizations responsible for group misconduct infractions.

Judicial Administrator Mary Beth Grant J.D. ’88 said students should use the website to carefully consider all facets of an organization prior to joining it.

“The new website provides transparency about misconduct by groups across the university. It allows students to consider more information as they decide to which groups they wish to belong,” she said.

Grant added that the scope of the new website goes beyond listing campus hazing incidents.

“The website is broader than hazing, because some misconduct may be unacceptable to a potential member, but it might be short of hazing,” she said.

Apgar echoed Grant’s sentiments, saying the site is broader in nature because it makes information about any type of group violation accessible to the public.

“It is inclusive of all infractions groups make, not just hazing,” he said.

Additionally, Apgar emphasized that the website transcends beyond Greek life and includes infractions made by any registered student organization, athletic team, or University residences.

The website was created as a response to the concerns of various organizations across campus and President David Skorton’s request to increase transparency regarding hazing incidents, according to Apgar.

He said the website is part of Skorton’s pledge to end hazing in its current form.

“According to a national study, 55 percent of college students involved in clubs, teams and organizations experience hazing, yet the vast majority of them do not identify the events as hazing,” Skorton said in an August 2011 New York Times op-ed.

Apgar also stressed that the website performs a service beyond the direct Cornell community.

“It also serves as a resource for parents and interested alumni to understand what is happening,” he said. “Prospective members of various groups will benefit from now having a better understanding of just what types of activities groups are involved in.”

Though the website currently only includes September’s lacrosse team hazing incident, the University has been planning on launching it since the beginning of last semester.

“We have been planning the website for about eight months. It serves a purpose beyond simply showing that we are opposed to group misconduct,” Apgar said.