After seeing photographs on the Internet of what might potentially be hazing, the university has suspended the UCSB Women’s Lacrosse team pending an investigation into the matter.
The photographs in question were posted on www.badjocks.com and were subsequently brought to the attention of university administrators. The website, the slogan for which is “Where COPS meets SportsCenter,” posts articles or pictures documenting alleged illegal activity committed by athletes or their coaches, from little league to professional teams.
Taken in 2004, the eight pictures posted on the site were supposedly obtained from www.webshots.com, and depict various players at a team party, on the playing field or in the hallway of a campus residence hall. In a couple of pictures, some team members appear to be taking shots of alcohol, while in another, two team members lift up their skirts. Other pictures show smiling team members wearing uniforms with writing scrawled across the shirts and on their skin.
According to campus policies, hazing is defined as “any method of initiation or pre-initiation into a student organization or any pastime or amusement engaged in with respect to such an organization which causes, or is likely to cause, bodily danger, physical harm, or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical, or mental harm to any student or other person.”
Dean of Students Yonie Harris said the investigation is ongoing, and university officials still need to verify if the actions performed in the pictures are in fact acts of hazing.
“[The pictures] depict activities that could be hazing and that’s what we’re looking into, trying to determine what exactly was going on in the pictures, authenticate them and talk to the team,” Harris said.
Women’s Lacrosse team captain Candace West, a senior aquatic biology major, said she will wait until the investigation is over before commenting on the incident.
“Right now we’re not talking to anybody about [the pictures] because we want to get things figured out,” West said.
Harris said the lacrosse team’s pictures were mild in comparison to other photographs on the website. Sports teams from such schools as Princeton University and the University of Michigan are also featured on the site.
“I have heard [that the pictures are mild in nature] from a lot of people,” Harris said. “I would concur based on what I saw if you’re comparing [the UCSB pictures] to the other pictures on the website.”
The photographs posted on the site will not be the only determinate of whether the team will be sanctioned, Harris said, as additional information still needs to be gathered. She said university officials are investigating whether any other alleged incidents of hazing have occurred.
Harris said the university does not condone hazing, and violators will be punished according to what evidence is found.
“Let me say that hazing is hazing, so if we determine that this is, we will respond appropriately,” Harris said. “Even if it is of a less serious variety, we don’t tolerate hazing on this campus.”
Should the team be found to have violated the campus hazing policy, Harris said, it will face a broad range of penalties. Possible sanctions include the continued suspension of the team, community service, restriction of social activities for the team or some combination of the above.
“Hazing is one of those things that can so easily get out of control and so easily turn dangerous even if it starts out not being that way,” Harris said. “We need to sort out what was going on and if we do determine that there was a violation, then we need to take a look at what was important.”