An investigation conducted at the end of the fall semester has concluded that several students on the women's squash team were victims of "mild hazing" in 2006.
According to Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster, "in the case of women's squash, there was certainly mild to moderate hazing."
Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs Margaret Hazlett and Director of Athletics Jeff Ward led the investigation, which also examined alleged hazing on the sailing team. However, the report did not conclude that hazing among members on the sailing team took place.
"Sailing was more ambiguous," Foster said.
The school's investigation was prompted by an October 26 Portland Press Herald article that ran after the newspaper discovered a photo album titled "squash initiation" on the Web site webshots.com.
Later that month, the College discovered a second photo album labeled "Bowdoin Sailing Team Initiation." Following this, President Barry Mills sent a campus-wide e-mail that condemned hazing and announced the investigation.
In an e-mail sent to the student body following the investigation's conclusion, Foster said that both the sailing and women's squash teams "will be expected to help plan community education programs focusing on hazing."
Foster added in an interview that he expects team members to help plan a component of the annual team captains' training program, which takes place in the spring.
Also, Foster's e-mail stated that the College would "take disciplinary action consistent with current policy practices" regarding alcohol policy violations that were discovered during the investigation.
Captains of both the sailing and women's squash teams expressed a desire to leave the investigation behind them.
"Hazing is an important issue and one that everyone at Bowdoin needs to keep talking about," sailing co-captain Katie Auth '08 wrote in an e-mail. "But we're all excited to move past the investigation and focus on making nationals this spring."
In a joint statement e-mailed to the Orient, women's squash senior co-captains Sarah Podmaniczky and Emilie McKenna said that they "respect Jeff Ward's and the investigative team's decisions," and that they "look forward to working with other groups on campus to facilitate discussion about what hazing means to the Bowdoin community and how we can eliminate it."
Sailing Coach Sherry Fowler said that she saw the incident as an opportunity.
"I have learned a lot about what [hazing] is and what [hazing] isn't," she said. "I think we can contribute to the conversation."
"It's important for college students to be part of groups and to earn their way into groups," she added. "Rituals...are universal, and I think they're good. It's only the most perverse and corrupt versions of them that we need to avoid."
Following the investigation, Foster has drafted a hazing policy for the College in consultation with the Student Affairs Committee.
"One of the takeaways from this [incident] was a feeling that we need to better articulate what constitutes hazing," he said.
Currently, Bowdoin's hazing policy is encompassed in the Social Code, found in the Student Handbook. The policy states that hazing is a violation of the Social Code but does not define it.
In the next several weeks, Foster said he will review the draft policy with Bowdoin Student Government and sports coaches for input, and, with further revising, hopes to have it become part of the Social Code for next year.