Dalhousie University says it will be keeping a close eye on its athletes this fall after 19 members of the women’s hockey team were suspended for hazing last season.
In January, 19 of the 24 players on the team were suspended for the season after an investigation into a September hazing incident involving rookie members of the team at a private house party. With only five players remaining — all first-year players — it was impossible to put together a team for the rest of the season.
Bonnie Neuman, Dalhousie's vice-president of student services, said coaches are responsible for ensuring all varsity and club athletes know what is considered hazing.
"Our stance is it’s fine to have parties and social activities and team bonding activities, but they need to be welcoming," she said.
The school launched a website to teach students about hazing
"Every one of our athletes is going through an online education program. It includes a questionnaire at the end. Our athletes are going to have to score 100 per cent on that questionnaire in order to be eligible to play on teams this year," said Neuman.
Players try to skate on
As the student hockey players gear up for the new season, team members say they want to put the controversy behind them.
Megan O'Neill has been waiting almost nine months to lace up her skates with the women's varsity team.
The fourth year student says she's looking forward to a fresh start.
"We’ve talked a lot as a team and we all understand the importance of staying positive. Because really there's no point of being negative at this point," she said.
This year’s' roster includes many new players, but O'Neill says there will be no rookie night this fall.
"We’re going to have a team bonding weekend in September that will hopefully welcome everyone and kind of get everyone on the same page….our coach plans that but in the past we've done sea kayaking, we did an amazing race. Something fun."
O'Neill said she hopes the team's fans will be back when they hit the ice this fall.
They team starts practicing next week. Their first game is mid-October.
Dalhousie University's Department of Athletics and Recreational Services has a policy that states it "does not condone the hazing or initiation of athletes and students in any form, whether such activities occur on or off the campus of Dalhousie University."
The policy goes on to state that: "Any student athletes, team personnel or coaches encouraging, facilitating or participating in such activities may be subject to disciplinary action including immediate suspension or dismissal from the Dalhousie University varsity program and/or the university."