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Ohio State crew club on probation as 13-month suspension for hazing ends

The Ohio State crew club practices. Credit: Courtesy of Carla Ramirez

The Ohio State crew club practices.
Credit: Courtesy of Carla Ramirez

The Ohio State crew club might be an official student organization again, but it hasn’t been entirely excused after being suspended for hazing violations last year. Team members, however, said they’re looking forward to getting back to work.

The club can be recognized as a student organization again following the completion of an approximately 13-month suspension. The club team, however, is set to remain on probation until the end of Fall Semester, Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs said Tuesday.

“The suspension, coupled with the probationary period through the end of the upcoming fall semester, serves to promote the education and development of the organization and provides a framework for their future success,” Isaacs said in an email.

The suspension, stemming from hazing violations that occurred during a 2013 spring break trip to Lake Lure, N.C., lasted from March 28, 2013, to May 5. The suspension was originally set to last through Dec. 21.

Isaacs said the suspension was shortened during an appeals process, which took place in April 2013.

Because the team already accepted responsibility for the reported violations, the group could only appeal on the grounds that the sanction is grossly disproportional to the violations, Isaacs said in a May 2013 article from the Columbus Dispatch.

During the trip, the club participated in nightly team-building activities after practices and workouts that were later determined to be hazing violations, including decorating men’s briefs underwear for women novice rowers and T-shirts for men’s novice rowers to wear and shaving the men’s heads, according to previous Lantern articles.

The OSU Student Code of Conduct defines hazing as “doing, requiring or encouraging any act, whether or not the act is voluntarily agreed upon, in conjunction with initiation or continued membership or participation in any group, that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm or humiliation. Such acts may include, but are not limited to, use of alcohol, creation of excessive fatigue, and paddling, punching or kicking in any form.”

Isaacs said the probation will include the university closely monitoring the club’s activities.

“Student Conduct would not look favorably upon new violations of the code of student conduct,” he said.

Isaacs added that Student Life plans to help the club get going again in the meantime.

“The group is now eligible to begin that process of registering as a student organization,” Isaacs said. “So that includes electing officers, providing information for the online directory (and) establishing a valid constitution.”

Interim crew club president and third-year in marketing, Eric Hildebrandt, said the club plans to be back in full-swing by fall.

“We will be able to compete in a full fall season as planned. The crew team will be recruiting athletes this fall. We will also be hosting open boathouse events during the university’s welcome week. The team is always looking for promising athletes who show commitment to hard work, and a desire to compete on the national level,” he said.

Although the club was found in violation of hazing rules, Hildebrandt said “the club was not found in violation of bringing potential or actual physical harm to any athletes, and no alcohol or other substances were present at the team’s spring break trip in 2013.”

Isaacs said he did not know the specifics of the suspension enough to comment on whether alcohol or other substances were present during the trip, and student conduct representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Carla Ramirez, a fourth-year in psychology and a member of the crew club team, said in an email she and her teammates are approaching the upcoming semester with optimism and excitement.

“The future looks promising for our already enthusiastic program,” she said. “Personally, I am confident that our team will prosper because the people on it will push it to be great. Rowers are tough; through this sport, we learn to never stop fighting, never stop pushing our limits. We plan to promote and spread the positivity and camaraderie of this team to the rest of the Ohio State community.”

Ramirez said the fresh start gives the club an opportunity to reach new heights.

“I am extremely grateful to be a returning member of this program; it has changed my life to be a part of such a supportive family,” Ramirez said. “We look forward to starting fresh because it gives the team the opportunity and the challenge to make Ohio State Crew the best it has ever been.”

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