Statement on SUNY Geneseo's Women's Volleyball Season

After thoughtful deliberation and consultation, SUNY Geneseo has cancelled its 2012 intercollegiate volleyball season. The team will not practice or participate in any intercollegiate games for the remainder of this academic year. This decision has been made in light of recent reports of underage drinking and hazing at a team "initiation" event on September 2 that involved all but one member of the team.

Every Geneseo student is expected to comply with our Student Code of Conduct and the law. In addition, each student-athlete at Geneseo is expected to uphold the Intercollegiate Athletics Code of Conduct, which states:

As student-athletes at Geneseo...we will display respect for teammates ... and ourselves at all times. We recognize that as student-athletes, we are often in situations where we receive greater scrutiny from fellow students and the extended community. In order to set an example for others to follow, we accept the challenge to hold ourselves to a higher standard both in and out of the classroom and on and off the playing field....Being cognizant of our status as student-athletes, we accept the fact that there may be consequences for any actions that do not comply with the standards set forth....

One of the standards is that:
Behavior ... such as abuse of alcohol/illegal drugs, gambling, fighting, and the general partaking in any illegal activities that result in the embarrassment of myself, my team, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation or the college could result in immediate dismissal from our program.

While we are disappointed having to take this action, it has become clear to us in our discussions with student-athletes that our students are well aware of the expectations we have of them as stated in the Intercollegiate Athletics Code of Conduct. Our student-athletes have acknowledged the numerous methods the college has used to educate them on College policy and state law pertaining to such things as the use of alcohol and hazing. Furthermore, in our conversations with our students' parents, they have acknowledged our clear communication to them about the expectation of strong institutional action in the wake of behavior that violates College policy and state law.

Given the alleged behaviors of some of our students, the students involved will also be subject to College conduct reviews and possible disciplinary action. College conduct review results will be confidential in accordance with College policy and federal law.

The purported actions of the members of the volleyball team and other students as described in police reports are in direct conflict with the mission of the College to "develop socially responsible citizens," the College's core values of excellence and integrity, and the ethos of care that is the hallmark of the Geneseo College community. It is for this reason that we as a College cannot in good conscience authorize this team to represent it in intercollegiate athletic competition this year.

 

Statement from SUNY Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl

"We are grateful that all of our students are safe. Given what I have learned about these allegations, I strongly condemn the irresponsible behavior these students allegedly engaged in and will not tolerate it from any of our students. Unfortunately, it's a problem that much too often permeates the higher education community. Not only do such actions ignore the expectations and values of the college but they put lives at risk. We have firmly and frequently educated all students on our campus regarding college policies on hazing and alcohol consumption for many years and will continue to do so in the most aggressive ways possible."

 

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Statement from SUNY Geneseo Regarding Impending Student Charges
Published September 7, 2012

SUNY Geneseo has been informed that the Geneseo Police Department is in the process of filing charges against 11 current or former members of the intercollegiate women's volleyball team related to an alleged off-campus incident Sept. 2. The charges include first degree hazing and unlawful dealing with a child. The college has been cooperating fully with the police investigation.

Given the severity of the actions, Geneseo took immediate action to cancel the team's games and practice sessions during the police investigation, including an upcoming tournament scheduled this weekend. A decision on the team's participation in future games this season is pending. After reviewing findings of the Geneseo police investigation, the college will initiate its own internal investigation and in all likelihood pursue disciplinary action against those involved in the alleged violations of the College Code of Conduct and the college hazing policy.

Vice President for Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio emphasized that the college strongly and frequently advises students on the college's strict anti-hazing and underage drinking policies.

"We take underage drinking and hazing very seriously," said Bonfiglio. "Hazing is not only a violation of college policy but is a crime under New York State law. We reinforced this with all of our students and their parents all summer long during new student and parent orientation and devoted considerable time to the topic at a recent mandatory meeting for all student-athletes. Unfortunately, as we have seen from a number of news reports already this fall, hazing is a widespread problem in higher education and students far too often fail to heed our messages about the consequences of such acts."

Among other initiatives, Geneseo conducts sessions on underage drinking during new student orientation; during the annual Student Leadership Symposium involving residence hall assistants, athletic team captains, student government officers and Greek organization leaders; during the college's annual Weeks of Welcome activities for new students; and at many other student gatherings during the year.

In 2009, a team of faculty and staff members attended the week-long Interdisciplinary Institute for Hazing Intervention at Butler University. Topics included the personal, cultural and environmental factors that contribute to hazing, and hazing prevention and intervention models. The following year, Geneseo hosted the same conference (renamed the Novak Institute for Hazing Prevention), aimed at eliminating hazing of all kinds. Seventy participants from 14 institutions and 13 Greek organizations attended the conference to develop collaborative, interdisciplinary approaches to hazing prevention and intervention.

During National Hazing Prevention Week Sept. 24-28, Geneseo will welcome keynote speaker Corey Ciocchetti, assistant professor of business ethics and legal studies at the University of Denver, who will address authentic success and living an ethical life. In addition, Geneseo created an award-winning bystander intervention training program in 2009, "Stand Up for One Another," which encourages students to intercede and act on their concern for their fellow students' well-being. Last year, the college established its "Stand Up for Geneseo" website, designed to help students easily report incidents of concern, such as hazing, in a convenient manner.

"I feel terrible that these students are experiencing what must seem to them to be an unimaginable nightmare," said Bonfiglio. "Our number one concern, however, must be student health and safety. Hazing, in any form, will not be tolerated at Geneseo."

 

Media Contact:
David Irwin
Media Relations Manager
(585) 245-5516
Irwin@geneseo.edu