Friday, May 19, 2006

Thank God University Policies Aren't Laws

As a law student, I tend to have an eye for the technical- When someone mentions that a rule or a policy was broken, I wonder what that rule or policy actually says.

So when the local news of hazing at the undergrad campus of my law school (Quinnipiac University) broke, my initial reaction was not one of shock, but one of technical curiosity. After all, adult diapers and whip cream bikinis don't seem particularly tasteful, but they also don't seem to rise to the level of physical abuse.

According to the Hartford Courant, Quinnipiac's anti-hazing policy, it is a violation to "wear conspicuous apparel publicly that is not normally in good taste" or to participate in "degrading or humiliating games."

Even more fun was when the story broke nationally on ESPN. According to ESPN,

Quinnipiac has an anti-hazing policy that prohibits "any action taken or situation, on or off campus, intended to create mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, ridicule or possible mental or physical injury."

The policy also bans paddling; covering a person with things like water, paint or food; forcing any members to drink alcoholic beverages or use illegal substances; depriving people of sleep; unplanned road trips or kidnappings; assigning "pranks," such as stealing, painting objects, panty raids or harassing another organization; or any physical or psychological shock to a student.

I'm glad to know that if I created a club at the law school, I can't force initiates into my club to wear clothing in bad taste. I also can't embarrass, harass, or ridicule anyone. (Does that mean know talking about Justice Scalia opinions?) And finally, no depriving people of sleep. (I better plan on ending my meetings by 8:00 PM in case anyone needs to go to bed early.)

Like everything else in the media this seems like a lot of hype about nothing. Not every form of "hazing" is a cause for concern. The only reason this has become national news was because the website found the pictures on a public photo site. Hmmmm .... Does that seem like a website concerned with promoting good sportsmanship, or a website concerned with trashing jocks?

We should leave the concern for cases of real abuse, and cases where there are actual complaints raised. Let kids be stupid and let them be kids. Let's not worry about every single instance of unusual outfits, adult diapers and all.


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