The Dalhousie University women's hockey team has released a statement on its Facebook page disputing the university's version of events that led to a decision to suspend the majority of the team’s players following a hazing incident.
The statement, released Thursday, recounts the team's version of events of the hazing at a private house party in September and said rookie players were sent on a scavenger hunt to find whipped cream, hot peppers and sardines which they were later asked to eat.
Charles Crosby, a spokesman for the Halifax university, said the team's account of the events of that night are not complete and confirmed the team's suspension this season will stand.
Crosby told CBC News that individual interviews with players after the incident portrayed a more severe picture of the hazing event than those described in the team's statement.
In the statement, the team said no one was forced to do anything they didn't want to.
"They then returned to dress up in odd clothing, play drinking games and answer questions with the intention of getting to know everyone better and feeling more comfortable as part of the group," the statement reads. "Everyone who wanted to do so drank, but alcohol was not forced on anyone."
Earlier this month, 17 of the 22 players on the team were suspended for the season after an investigation into the September party.
With only five players remaining — all first-year players — it was impossible to put together a team and the Dalhousie Tigers women's hockey team was forced to forfeit the rest of the season.
Punishment does not fit the crime, says team
University officials have remained tight-lipped about the exact nature of the hazing and have only said it involved "humiliation, intimidation and excessive drinking."
The team's statement apologized for the events of the night in question but said the punishment "far exceeds the severity of the events that occurred at the party."
"We apologize for any mistakes we made that night and acknowledge that we have learned valuable lessons from this experience," the statement said. "To know that something we did could have hurt anyone on the team feels awful, and we have conveyed these feelings to the first years."
In the statement, the team suggests alternative punishment it describes as, "a restorative remedy that would benefit the community, rather than a punishment that shames us and tarnishes our individual reputations forever."
The team goes on to say that many of the team's players are outstanding members of the community that excel in academics, volunteer with Easter Seals, the Paralympics, schools and breast cancer awareness campaigns.
"This past week we have been painted as criminals by the university. We have been made to feel as though we are barbaric and horrible people," the statement reads. "We'd like to remind the community that we are much more than those one-sided words."