Sep. 14, 2012

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."




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



Viewing Comments (17)

Angela wrote:

The problem with this incident wasn't the drinking itself, it was the fact that it was forced. College students are going to drink, but it should be their choice whether or not to do it. Not someone else's.

Posted Sep. 17, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

Emily wrote:

Every school has a drinking problem. Welcome to college.

Posted Sep. 16, 2012 @ 7:24 pm

Ben wrote:

Jerry, The coaches had nothing to do with this incident. Coaches, in spite of their efforts to stem this type of behavior,cannot control every minute of their athlete's lives. Students making bad choices had everything to do with this episode. Phil, The underclassmen are indeed victims, but they also broke the code of conduct.

Posted Sep. 15, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

Scott wrote:

The problem of hazing, excessive underage drinking, drug use, rape, and other forms of violence are present on every university campus. They are not particular to this one. They happen much more frequently than outsiders would ever imagine. These behaviors are dangerous, and result in injury and possibly even death. The more they are publicized, and the more the university responds with meaningful consequences, the safer students will be. Students at Geneseo are, overall, extremely respectful and kind. The environment promotes community and peace. I would feel much more comfortable sending my child to an institution where administrators are brave and caring enough to make these dangerous episodes public and are take action - It means that students are held accountable, these acts will not be tolerated, and the campus will be a safer place for everyone.

Posted Sep. 15, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

Brad wrote:

well, initiation is not hazing, but hazing most definitely is not initiation. Hazing is a deliberate act with total disregard to the outcomes of those who taking part in the act. Initiation stands as a bonding experience that allows comrodary and bonds to be build as a team or group building exercise. Military, professional sport teams ammeter sports teams competitive sports teams business the list can go on an on.. they all have initiations into the "team", this is conducted with mature individuals at the helm, and not some 21 year old who is high on power and authority for the first time in their little lives.. Hazing has no place in todays society, initiation i would hope continues to have a place in society and in the college arena. just make sure that one doesn't reflect or affect the other.

Posted Sep. 15, 2012 @ 11:01 am

Jerry wrote:

This is the 2nd hazing episode in recent years at Geneseo. There must be a real problem at this school. Let the freshman transfer and play elsewhere, as this program needs a new start next year with all new players and coaches.

Posted Sep. 14, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

Phil wrote:

It would seem that the freshmen who were the victims of the hazing are going through a double punishment. They not only were hazed but are being punished by not being allowed to continue their season.There are nine freshmen on the team, at the least, they should be allowed to continue their season with their coach. If the administration feels the upper classmen need further punishment, besides the legal proceedings against them, so be it, but I suspect the upper classmen have suffered enough with the legal action and the scalet sash already hanging around their necks. Two weeks of punishment for the freshmen is unfair and penalizes the victim of the action.

Posted Sep. 13, 2012 @ 11:12 pm