The Office of Student Affairs determined that the men’s rugby team violated Bowdoin’s alcohol and hazing policies in light of events at an off-campus house and at the annual Epicuria party last Saturday, September 15. Tim Foster, dean of student affairs, announced the ruling in an email to all students yesterday evening.
On the night of the annual campus-wide party, which is hosted by the men’s rugby team, four underage students were transported to Parkview Adventist Medical Center due to over-consumption of alcohol. The two first years and two sophomores who were transported to Parkview were all “tied directly or indirectly to Epicuria and the rugby team,” Foster wrote. Two of the students were transported from Ladd House, where the party took place.
As a result of the hazing charge, Foster wrote that the men’s rugby team must forfeit both this Saturday’s away game against the University of Maine at Orono and a September 29 home match against Colby College.
Foster stated that various individuals involved with the campus-wide party and pre-game events are still being investigated by “multiple people from ResLife, from Student Life, and from Security.”
In an email to the Orient Director of Residential Life Mary Pat McMahon added that “Ladd House also faces disciplinary consequences related to these events.”
Residents of Ladd House declined to comment for this story.
“We are still working to determine certain aspects of their sanction,” McMahon wrote.
Chris Rossi, assistant director of residential life, commented on the College’s in-depth review of the event and those involved.
“It’s a multilayered process. There’s a lot of follow-up, both collectively and individually, and everyone’s taking the time to come up with a proper, thorough, and appropriate response,” said Rossi.
In a letter to the editors of the Orient, the leadership of the men’s rugby team apologized for their actions and took responsibility for the transports involving rugby players, but took issue with Foster’s language in the campus-wide email.
“We are incensed and embarrassed that Dean Foster labeled our entire team as hazers who intended to humiliate our recruits,” the letter states. “We are a team that values long-lasting relationships grounded in mutual respect derived from our commitment on the field and shared social experiences.”
In addition to the College’s disciplinary response, two students received summonses by the Brunswick Police Department (BPD) in connection with an off-campus event on Union Street Saturday evening.
One underage student was summonsed for possession by consumption, and a 21 year-old student was summonsed for furnishing a place for minors to consume alcohol, according to Deputy Chief Marc Hagan.
“Our greatest concern in the BPD is for the security and safety of all persons within the town’s boundaries,” Hagan said. “With that being said, we’re not doing our job effectively if we don’t at least conduct an initial investigation for an emergency call for service.”
BPD officers responded to the emergency at Ladd House shortly after midnight and broke up the party, opting not to issue any legal summonses. Hagan said there is no set protocol that BPD officers follow when responding to parties.
“Sometimes we take action like we did with these two individuals [at Union Street], and sometimes we do not,” said Hagan. “We provide our officers with a great deal of discretion. We tell people to be upfront and honest with us and I can tell you that the people involved at the Union Street incident were not initially forthcoming with information.”
“The police were more aggressive than we usually see on the Bowdoin campus, in terms of actively breaking up the party, but given the transports situation, I don’t know what else they could have done,” said Erin Leddy ’15.
According to Hagan, the presence of BPD officers at a College party has been rare over the past few years, and their appearance at Ladd House should not be seen as an indication that the police will step up on-campus law enforcement this year.
“We responded as needed. We have no plans to step up any enforcement action on campus,” he said.
While the four underage alcohol-related transports are clear signs of dangerous drinking behavior on campus, Foster noted that “one of the leaders of the rugby team was one of the people who called and said, I’m worried about this person.”
Last year, the Office of Student Affairs referred a hazing incident involving the Meddiebempsters to the Student Organization Oversight Committee (SOOC), which conducted a hearing to determine whether hazing had taken place. Brian Kim ’12, current chair of the SOOC, said the administration acted independently when it determined the penalty for the club rugby team.
“I met with a group of people including Sarah Levin of student affairs, Charlie Cubeta of the treasury, and Allen Delong from student activities to discuss possible plans of response. Since then we haven’t heard anything,” said Kim. “We had nothing to do with Tim Foster’s investigation.”
According to Bowdoin Student Government President Dani Chediak, any staff member of the College’s Student Affairs division can trigger an SOOC adjudgement procedure, but no complaint was submitted regarding the rugby team.
“I was not involved in this decision, nor was the chair of the SOOC, but it was my impression that as a student group it would need to go through this procedure,” said Chediak.
“The SOOC has the right to review the charter of any student organization at any time and it is likely that the SOOC will take some type of action as a result of last weekend’s events,” Chediak added.