Hazing appears to be a thing of the past at UNB and St. Thomas University.
The last reported hazing incident on either campus occurred at STU in October 2010—a tragic event that resulted in the death of student Andrew Bartlett.
UNB and STU hazing policies both underwent changes in 2011 following Bartlett’s death, in which excessive amounts of alcohol were consumed in accordance with a hazing ritual for the STU men’s volleyball team.
“After [the incident], we reviewed our student code of conduct; we significantly increased the education and awareness—proactive things that we did with regards to student conduct both on and off campus,” said Jeffrey Carleton, STU associate vice-president of communications.
Even prior to the policy change, such an event was already against the rules for students and student athletes alike. Yet after the October 2010 incident, STU changed its approach to dealing with hazing.
“Clearly it wasn’t enough to have the policies in place, and you also needed to remind students over and over why it’s prohibited and what the potential consequences are,” said Carleton.
Despite the incident occurring on STU’s campus, UNB’s policies on hazing were also revised the year after Bartlett’s death—although UNB associate professor Ryan Hamilton said they’re unrelated.
“I think there was a movement across the country at the time when people were looking at hazing a bit more seriously and a bit differently, so I wouldn’t say it was in response to what happened at STU,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton formerly served on the committee that worked on UNB’s updated 2011 hazing policy, and has researched hazing across the country and at different universities. The final step to the UNB’s updated policy, according to Hamilton, was asking the question of ‘how do we prevent hazing?”
“We can define [hazing] and have all these policies in place for what we’ll do from a punitive standpoint, but how do we actually prevent hazing?” said Hamilton. “What information do people not have when they’re joining, and what can we do to give leaders alternatives to these sort of traditional hazing activities that may have been taking place?”
He added, “I think it’s really important the the university stays vigilant in communicating its policy and doing its educational work. Strong policies and strong educational initiatives are important.”
Emily Tingley, a proctor in Lady Dunn Residence said proctors and Orientation Week leaders both receive training specific to hazing.
“We also receive a hazing specific presentation about how not to engage in hazing, what hazing is, why we need to make sure we don’t do it, and how it negatively affects both the students being hazed and also the overall environment,” she said.
Orientation Week is an especially dangerous time of year for hazing rituals to occur, with new students arriving on-campus who are eager to fit in and make friends at their new home. This can result in situations in which new students are taken advantage of.
Providing training on hazing to upper-year students who are leading orientation events and proctors that live in residence with these new students is one way UNB tries to promote a more inclusive environment.
“One of the most important and exciting parts of welcoming students to the residence community is making them feel like they’re part of our family,” said Tingley. “So if we are making them uncomfortable or singling them out as a group, that puts up a barrier for us to welcome them and make them feel comfortable here.”