MICHAEL JOHNSON/Livingston County News
SUNY Geneseo Vice President of Student and Campus Life Dr. Robert Bonfiglio (right) addresses the media along side Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Mike Mooney after announcing the cancellation of its volleyball team's 2012 season.
Following hazing arrests, SUNY Geneseo ends women’s volleyball season
The SUNY Geneseo women’s volleyball team will sit the season out, said college officials at a press conference Friday afternoon, Sept. 14.
In a formal statement, college officials explained that the team will neither compete in nor practice for intercollegiate games for the rest of the academic year. “This decision has been made in the light of recent reports of underage drinking at a team ‘initiation’ event on Sept. 2 that involved all but one member of the team.”
Eleven team members face charges of Hazing and Unlawfully Dealing with a Minor for summoning eight freshmen on the team to 36 Court Street. The women were handcuffed, blindfolded and ordered to drink shots of vodka. One 18-year-old victim fell down, chipped her tooth on a table, and lay on the floor while teammates reportedly continued pouring vodka into her mouth. She passed out in front of the house and woke up at Noyes Memorial Hospital where she was being treated for alcohol poisoning. Hospital staff told her that her blood alcohol level was .26 percent — over three times the legal limit.
When the Geneseo Police Department launched its investigation, the college temporarily suspended the team, barring competition in a tournament last weekend. The college is cooperating fully with police and will launch its own internal investigation and pursue possible disciplinary action against those involved.
“We are grateful that all of our students are safe. Given what I have learned about these allegations, I strongly condemn the irresponsible behavior these students allegedly engaged in and will not tolerate it from our students,” said college president Christopher Dahl in a prepared statement. Dahl was out of town Friday and did not attend the press conference.
“Not only do such actions ignore the expectations and values of the college but they put lives at risk. We have firmly and frequently educated all students on our campus regarding college policies on hazing and alcohol consumptions for many years and will continue to do so in the most aggressive ways possible,” Dahl said.
College officials say the team’s alleged actions are not only a violation of the law, but of the college’s Intercollegiate Athletics Code of Conduct, which reads, “We recognized that as student-athletes, we are often in situations where we receive greater scrutiny from fellow students and the extended community.”
Last week, SUNY Geneseo Vice President for Student and Campus Life responded to the incident by pointing out that student-athletes attended a mandatory training session this summer which “devoted considerable time” to the issues of hazing and underage drinking.
In 2009, a freshman named Arman Partamian of Flushing died during a hazing incident involving a former student club called the “PIGS.” Since then the college has stepped up its training for hazing intervention — including hosting guest speakers at campus symposiums, creating a bystander intervention program and developing systems on the college website to make it easier for students to report incidents.
Partamian’s mother, in a comment on a recent LCN editorial, was pessimistic about the effect any new programs are having.
“If my husband and I knew in advance that ‘alcohol-fueled initiation rites’ [were] a problem at SUNY Geneseo, we would have never sent our son Arman Partamian to that school,” she wrote. “Nothing has changed in three years.”