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December, 2016

Final Report from the McGill Universitys Ad-Hoc Committee to Investigate a

Possible Breach of the Varsity Code

Committee members:

Christopher Buddle, Dean of Students, Chair

Marc Glinas, Executive Director of Athletics & Recreation

Faculty member named by Provost

Varsity Athlete, Student representative

Student representative

Martlet Foundation representative named by McGill Board of Governors

Executive Summary:

The ad-hoc committee to investigate a possible breach of the Varsity Code was assembled in August
2016, by the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning). The committee was tasked to investigate an
event associated with the Mens Varsity Basketball team alleged to have occurred in September 2015.
The committees goal was to learn the details of the event, assess whether or not the event constituted
hazing, and if so, to advise on possible sanctions. The mandate and details of the ad-hoc committee is
found in the Guide to Varsity Sports for Student-Athletes.

The committee interviewed the coach, four first-year student-athletes (from the 2015-2016 season), a
senior leader from that team, and two Martlet Varsity student-athletes (members of the womens
Varsity basketball team from the 2015-2016 season) including one of the leaders of this team. Two
student-athletes were interviewed twice. Each was interviewed individually either in person or, when
that was not possible, by telephone. The interviews occurred between September and mid-November
2016. The investigation was not a formal disciplinary process and the committee made this clear with
those who were interviewed; all agreed to be interviewed on a voluntary basis. The committee worked
as investigators with the goal of learning about a party that may have led to hazing of first-year student-
athletes. Therefore, the committees focus was on learning the student-athletes' own perspectives
about the event.

At the conclusion of the interviews, and after much discussion about the facts of the case, the ad-hoc
committee unanimously agrees that the Rookie Party held on September 19, 2015, was a McGill
context, and included elements that are defined as hazing: any activity expected of anyone as an
explicit or implicit condition of initiation or entry to, affiliation with, or continuing association or
membership with a group or organization, that humiliates, degrades, abuses, threatens, or causes a


7 December, 2016

reasonable person to feel threatened, or endangers another, regardless of the persons willingness
to take part.

The committee believes that at least some first-year student-athletes felt pressure to attend the event,
felt coerced into attending, and felt significant pressure to take part in certain activities and events at
the party. One of the first-year student-athletes felt humiliated, at least some indicated they were
strongly encouraged to drink alcohol, and by all accounts, there was excessive drinking by most, if not
all, who were in attendance. There were sexually provocative games that included members of the
Martlet Team (Womens basketball), who were all in attendance for the latter part of the party. Some of
the first-year student-athletes were sick at the party, raising the committees concern about safety and
wellbeing of some of those in attendance. Interviewees concurred that all senior student-athletes from
the 2015-2016 Mens and Womens Varsity Basketball teams took part in this party, which our
committee views as an initiation event that included inappropriate activities.

We recognize that every individual has his or her own perspective on the events, and there is variation
in how the student-athletes interviewed viewed the event. Regardless, the activities described, and the
fact that at least some of the first-year student-athletes felt pressure to take part in the event, leads the
committee to conclude that the event represents an instance of hazing.

Judging the relative seriousness of the event is difficult, notably because it was described by individuals
who were significantly intoxicated during the event, and because the event occurred over one year ago.
The committee unanimously agrees that the coach is not responsible for the event and that specific and
immediate team-wide sanctions for the 2016-2017 team are not appropriate, inasmuch as the event
occurred in 2015 and many of the student-athletes currently on the team were either not on the team
or were first-year players at the time.

The committee also notes that some sanctions were already levied during the 2015-2016 season, when
the event was brought to the attention of the coaching staff. At the time, the head coach immediately
reported the incident to the Interim Executive Director of Athletics and Recreation, who in turn alerted
the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning). The head coach met with the first-year student-athletes
to learn about the event. As a result, the team captain at the time was suspended for one game, and he
and the other student-athletes who were involved in the incident were tasked with developing a video
about the issue of hazing and its prevention.

The committee considered the information collected via the interviews and, taking into account past
sanctions, advises that some additional sanctions be levied for members of the current Men's and
Women's teams, although individual student-athlete sanctions are not recommended. Sanctions include
probation for the current Mens team, as well as participation in education and awareness activities,
with the goal of preventing future incidents.


7 December, 2016

Description of Initiation Party:

The ad-hoc committee recognizes many consistencies in the descriptive narratives of the event (referred
to as the Rookie Party hereafter), described here:

The committee heard that the Rookie Party has been happening for many years, and is a
traditional event held by senior student-athletes, for the new student-athletes.
First-year student-athletes heard about the Rookie Party via informal pathways such as
discussion in the locker room and over text messages. There is no evidence to suggest any
formal or broadly publicized communications about the Rookie Party. There is no evidence that
the coach was aware of the Rookie Party in advance of the party.
On the night of the party, first-year student-athletes met at different locations (e.g., street
corners), and were in small, separate groups (pairs, in some cases); locations varied, but senior
team members indicated specific intersections/meeting points to first-year student-athletes.
Approximate meeting times varied, but were as early as 7:30 PM on 19 September 2015.
When met by more senior student-athletes, either pillow cases or blindfolds were put over the
heads of first-year student-athletes, and first-year student-athletes were transported by vehicles
to a senior players house in Milton-Parc. There were two vehicles, and the treatment of first-
year student-athletes likely differed between the vehicles: one vehicle had first-year student-
athletes with blindfolds; the second vehicle had first-year student-athletes with pillow cases
over their heads.
Upon arrival to the house in Milton-Parc, first-year student-athletes were seated on a couch,
and they were given shots of hard alcohol immediately after.
First-year student-athletes subsequently each had 40 oz beer bottles taped to one of their
hands, and were asked to drink these in a short time period. There was strong encouragement
to drink large quantities of alcohol, and first-year student-athletes reported becoming very
The party included all other members of the Varsity basketball team, and some number of
basketball alumni. Later in the evening, the entire womens varsity basketball team (the
Martlets) were in attendance.
First-year student-athletes were taken to a separate room, and their clothes were removed,
except for their underwear. They were then brought out individually or in pairs to participate in
so-called "challenges" or tasks, typically with first-year Martlet players. There were multiple
reports of a game in which one first-year Martlet player, dressed up in some fashion (e.g.,
princess) and one first-year student-athlete simulated sexual positions with a balloon held
between them, until the balloon burst. There were also reports of lip synching.
There were reports of altercations among some who were in attendance at the party. It was
broadly acknowledged that one first-year student-athlete was more intoxicated than others,
was involved in what was described as rough-housing or a wrestling match, and fell to the


7 December, 2016

The party finished around 11 PM, with some individuals heading out to a bar, and some first-
year student-athletes making their way back to their own residence halls, or other locations, for
the night.


The aforementioned description provides a general picture of the Rookie Party, but there were some
inconsistencies in some of the narratives, and these are highlighted here:

Two first-year student-athletes reported that they wanted to opt out of the party due to feeling
sick, but upon receiving a text message from the team captain in reply to their request, felt
pressure to attend; the text message was cited as stating it will be a long year for you if they
failed to attend.
Some first-year student-athletes felt the event was fun and there was no coercion involved.
Two first-year student-athletes felt significant pressure to attend, pressure put on them by more
senior student-athletes.
Some first-year student-athletes felt they could have left at any time they wanted, while one
first-year player felt that leaving was not a viable option.
One first-year player reported being physically forced into a vehicle to get to the party, others
reported that there was active encouragement but without specific physical force.
One first-year player reported being physically forced to drink with a head covering (pillow case)
over his head; others reported strong encouragement.
The reported number of shots given to first-year student-athletes upon arrival to the party was
highly variable, from an estimate of 1-2 shots to as many as 5-7 shots. There are varying reports
about whether the blindfolds or pillow cases were removed before the shots were consumed.
One first-year student-athlete said he was forced to drink the 40 oz of beer taped to his hands;
other first-year student-athletes said they could stop at any time, but there was peer pressure
to continue.
One first-year student-athlete reporting feeling humiliated by the sexually provocative games.
While there was agreement about an altercation involving more innocent rough-housing or
wrestling, one first-year student-athlete reported another, more heated altercation between
himself and a senior student-athlete in which some fist-fighting may have occurred.
Several individuals reported an altercation in which one first-year student-athlete was injured
at the party (the aforementioned rough-housing or wrestling incident) the account of this
narrative was highly variable, and the first-year student-athlete in question denied specific
medical conditions resulting from the Rookie Party, other than recovering from excessive
drinking. This incident was also reported by the two Martlet student-athletes, although they did
not witness the incident.
One first-year student-athlete reported having to make his way back to his residence alone,
missing shoes and perhaps other clothes, and felt his safety and wellbeing was compromised.
It was reported by some first-year student-athletes, and by senior student-athletes, that senior
student-athletes checked in on the first-year student-athletes the day after the party, to ensure
they were recovering.


7 December, 2016


The ad-hoc committee does not recommend any sanctions to specific, individual student-athletes at this
time, in part because the event occurred over one year ago, in part because some previous sanctions
were levied, and in part because despite the detailed investigation, it remains difficult to judge the
different roles of all who were in attendance. We also acknowledge that many individuals associated
with the team have been under immense pressure and stress because of our committees work, and the
process itself has been difficult.

The committee suggests there are opportunities to learn from the Rookie Party, and suggests that some
sanctions should revolve around education, awareness and prevention; these are more forward-thinking
sanctions that we hope will leave a lasting impact on Varsity athletes. We remain concerned about the
excessive alcohol consumption, the potential safety risks associated with the Rookie Party, and the lack
of tangible objections to the party by more senior student-athletes. The committee is concerned that
many in attendance did not see the event as a form of hazing, and thus there is need for more
education. The committee also recognizes there are opportunities to learn from this process in the
context of future efforts to revise McGills hazing policy (see Appendix 1).

The ad-hoc committee suggests the following sanctions:

It is recommended that the entire 2016-2017 Varsity Mens Basketball team be placed on
probation for the remainder of the current season, with the possibility of extending the
probationary period (e.g., to include the 2017-2018 season). Should another breach of the
Varsity Code of similar magnitude occur when the Team is on probation, the Teams season
should be suspended, and sanctions for individual student-athletes be levied, done in close
consultation with the head coach and/or with another ad-hoc committee.
The mens student-athletes who are currently on the team and who were in attendance at the
Rookie Party (excluding first-year student-athletes from 2015-2016), be required to attend a
facilitated educational workshop about hazing and initiation, with the goal of discussing the risks
of such parties, learning from the experience, and brainstorming about alternative, more
positive team-building exercises going forward. We suggest this workshop be 2-4 hours in
length, and it may be possible to have it led or facilitated by external experts. Finding ways to
ensure that the workshop is productive and leaves a lasting, positive impact is essential.
All Varsity Basketball student-athletes from the Mens and Womens teams attend a Safer
Partying Workshop in Winter 2017 term, tailored to the context of Rookie Parties. While it is
recognized that partying and excessive alcohol consumption is an issue for many students across
McGill, given the specific concerns about the Rookie Party, we would recommend all members
of both Varsity teams attend. Attendance would need to be recorded, and consequences for
those failing to attend would need to be serious and clearly communicated to the teams.
The ad-hoc committee recommends that McGill Athletics and Recreation continue to encourage
Basketball team members to participate in the production of any educational materials related
to hazing, recognizing that peer-to-peer awareness may leave a lasting impression on all Varsity


7 December, 2016


Additional Comments on McGills Policy on Hazing and Inappropriate Initiation Practices

Throughout the process of investigating a possible breach of the Varsity code, the ad-hoc committee
reflected on McGills current hazing policy, and offers the following suggestions on ways to improve the

The policy currently offers little information about the range of possible sanctions that might
result from incidents of hazing: it may be useful to illustrate examples of sanctions, and this may
help the broader community recognize the seriousness of initiation events, and equally, offer
guidance for any future ad-hoc committees.
The procedures outlined in the policy are poorly defined. While it is appropriate for a student to
bring a concern about hazing to the Dean of Students, it may be useful to provide other
pathways of reporting, perhaps more explicitly naming individuals in Athletics and Recreation,
or relevant parties in Faculties.
Related, the policy needs to better outline procedural pathways, and as appropriate, should
refer to other relevant policies at McGill which could be followed if a possible hazing event is
reported. Examples include the ad-hoc committee investigating a possible breach of the Varsity
code, and the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures.
The policy could be more forward-thinking around the importance of education, and be more
specific about encouraging opportunities to build programming that reflects the positive
elements of cohort building. Development of educational materials by varsity athletes is one
pathway to further encourage peer-to-peer discussions about hazing and initiation events.
The policy should acknowledge the longer-term effects that hazing may have on individuals,
most importantly on those who might have been victims of hazing, but also on those who might
have engaged in and/or organized it. Explicit discussion of support systems (e.g., Counselling &
Mental Health Services) should be included.
The policy needs some modernization of language, and general updates to reflect name changes
of some offices (e.g., First Year Office is now Campus Life & Engagement)

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