Investigation uncovers threats to lives of students, campus leaders say
By Charles Douglas
An alleged hazing incident earlier this month has led to the complete suspension of the Humboldt State University men’s soccer team — and the women’s team may be next on the chopping block.
The epicenter of the investigation centers around a party on Aug. 4 at an undisclosed location in the area, where the lives of two student athletes were placed in serious jeopardy, according to a report issued by HSU President Rollin Richmond.
“Given my understanding of what occurred with the men’s team, I am immensely relieved that all of the students involved are safe,” Richmond stated. “I hope that the team discipline, along with individual disciplinary actions, send a clear message that this was unacceptable. Hazing is not tolerated at Humboldt State, not in Athletics and not in any other area.”
In addition to the men’s soccer team being banned from any California Collegiate Athletic Association games or any University-sanctioned games for the entire academic year, disciplinary proceedings under the HSU Code of Student Conduct have been initiated against the individual students involved, with their names as yet unreleased. They could be thrown out of the entire California State University system as a result of the decision by HSUs Office of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.
“It is vital that our student-athletes, and our entire campus community, understand the seriousness of the situation,” Richmond continued. “Hazing is illegal, and it is prohibited by the student and student-athlete codes of conduct. It has no place at our University.”
An investigation has also begun into alleged hazing by members of HSU’s women’s soccer team, with the same penalties hanging over their heads as well — campus police and the Arcata Police Department are involved in both inquiries. Athletics Director Dan Collen will also have to prepare annual anti-hazing reports and implement curriculum changes to the Life Skills course taught by the Department of Kinesiology
“I was truly taken aback by this incident and the number of students involved,” HSU Student Affairs Vice President Peg Blake stated. “It’s just so
counter to the culture of caring and social responsibility at HSU. We need to be clear that hazing needs to be reported by those who know about it, who see it happening or who are targets. We all have a role to play. For the students involved in this, our goal is to make sure they stay on track academically. That’s the most important thing, that they do well in their classes and make progress toward earning their degrees.”
Lastly, a policy of random alcohol and drug testing will now be imposed on student athletes, with students required to sign an anti-hazing agreement.
“We just cannot have this sort of thing happening. It’s dangerous and it’s unacceptable,” Collen stated. “I’ve made that clear to the coaches and players I’ve talked to, and I’ll continue to make that point throughout the year. Our student-athletes have been tremendous representatives of Humboldt State over the years, and this incident tarnishes that record. I expect better, the whole Humboldt State community expects better, and we won’t accept excuses.”
Incredibly, the men’s soccer team players will still receive their athletic scholarships — even though they won’t be taking the field to play a single game.