Hazing on Web

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on athletes' lives being laid open by blogs and photo sites.
 

Athletes' lives laid open by blogs, photo sites
Hazing disregards gender lines
NCAA & Hazing
Hazing: A high school tragedy

Colleges see rise in outlawed activity among female athletes


Chuck Stenzel, a blond, blue-eyed 20-year-old, attended Alfred University to become a teacher. His mother figured he'd make a good one. Stenzel was an honor-roll student who still found time to play basketball, baseball and hockey.

To save money for a Ford pick-up truck, he delivered newspapers before school and caught clams in Long Island's Great South Bay, using a boat he refurbished himself. He offered to shovel snow for neighbors and, without telling his mother, sometimes slipped them free clams.

Soon after arriving at Alfred, Stenzel joined the Alpine Klan athletic fraternity, a collection of 35 students with interests similar to his own. Or so he thought.

In February, 1978, participated in an initiation party for new members. He was locked in the trunk of a car with a bottle of wine, pint of whiskey and six pack of beer. The trunk was to be opened when he finished all of the alcohol. The car was parked outside, where the temperature was 9 degrees.

Forty minutes later, when friends opened the trunk, Stenzel was unconscious. He died that day.

A year after Stenzel's death, his mother, Eileen Stevens of Sayville, founded CHUCK, which stands for the Committee to Halt Useless College Killings. She lobbied for hazing laws in almost every state and helped push New York to become the first of 44 states to make hazing illegal. She also gave more than 700 speeches at colleges and universities across the country, including the University at Albany and Union College.

In the past two months, athletic teams at both of the Capital Region schools were the subject of internal investigations for hazing after pictures of team parties surfaced on the Internet. Union ruled that hazing occurred on its women's soccer team during the 2003-04 school year and said it planned to punish those involved, though it declined to say how. UAlbany, while acknowledging possible violations of the school's alcohol policy, decided the activities at a women's lacrosse team party this past winter did not constitute hazing.

"It's very distressing to know that this still goes on and that these young men and women are still subjected to it," said the 66-year-old Stevens, who retired from speaking and running CHUCK in 1999. "There are regulations, but they don't seem to be enforced. The schools and organizations are very averse to negative publicity."

Around the time Stenzel died, Stevens, like many others, believed hazing was a fraternity and male sports-based phenomenon. But the women's sports teams at UAlbany and Union were two of more than 25 being investigated since this spring. The investigations suggest to experts that, despite new laws and strict school policies, hazing not only still occurs, but it's also hardly unique to frat parties and football teams.

Studies back-up the anecdotal evidence.

A study conducted by Alfred in 1998 found that 80 percent of NCAA athletes were subjected to "unacceptable" or "questionable" behavior as part of their initiation. One in five athletes endured potentially illegal hazing, the study found.

Colleen McGlone, an assistant professor of sport management at Coastal Carolina, headed a study that found 48.5 percent of female athletes reported being hazed. About one-third of the 1,500 athletes surveyed reported hazing another student.

"I was very surprised, not that hazing was happening but at what types were happening," McGlone said. "The women had really high rates of drinking and alcohol-related hazing. There was some embarrassment, like singing and dancing and dress up, as well. But what really got to me was the sexual hazing, imitating sexual acts and talking about sex."

The photographs of the Union and UAlbany teams depict several of the activities reported in McGlone's study. Pictures show women blindfolded, wearing silly costumes and singing. In some photos, captions reference drinking. One picture, allegedly of a Union player, shows a young women with her head in a garbage pail; the caption reads, "1st rook that couldn't hang!!"

Those pictures are similar to the hundreds that have appeared on the Internet in recent months. One of the most infamous photos shows a young woman straddling the face of a male stripper. Another photo shows two young women lifting their skirts and bending over.

None of the pictures depict extreme hazing, like what occurred at Long Island's Mepham High School in 2003, when several football players were sodomized with broomsticks, pine cones and golf balls. But experts say the recent photos are no less alarming, because they suggest hazing, especially among women, continues to be a traditional rite of passage in sports.

A study by Elizabeth Allan, an assistant professor of higher education leadership at the University of Maine, found that about 60 percent of athletes who reported hazing said alcohol consumption was involved. More than 20 percent of athletes reported drinking until vomiting as part of a hazing ritual. Though Allan has yet to sort her data by gender, she said anecdotal evidence suggests hazing is as prevalent among women as men.

"Often people have this image in their head of hazing that it's a masculine thing," Allan said. "My read on it at this point is that women are probably participating in hazing to the same extent that men are, though it probably takes a different form."

Hazing first caught the national media's attention in May, when photos of the Northwestern women's soccer team engaging in hazing caused the school to suspend the team. The suspension later was lifted, though players were punished and the coach resigned in the fallout.

Those photos, along with pictures from 11 other schools, including Union, were posted on www.badjocks.com , a Web site that chronicles the misdeeds of athletes. The site's founder, 46-year-old Bob Reno of East Lansing, Mich., said some of the photos were e-mailed to him by readers. Others, he said, he found by trolling www.webshots.com , a site that allows users to post photographs on the Internet.

Of the 12 teams with pictures on BadJocks, eight were women's teams.

"We didn't consciously say, 'Let's go after women's teams,' " said Reno, who acknowledged the name "Bob Reno" is an alias. "There just happened to be more out there. What the experts think is there's more of a sense among women that they want to document these things, whereas the guys are like, 'Let's take a few pictures and get back to drinking.' "

Susan Lipkins, a Long Island-based psychologist who studies hazing, compared posting pictures on the Internet to keeping a diary. She said diaries always have been more common to women than men.

Lipkins also speculated that the type of hazing in which men typically engage may be more severe, making men less likely to show the pictures to the public. She also said posting pictures can be a social competition among young women -- those who post the most pictures and whose sites generate the most hits have the most intricate social lives.

"Boys in general are just less likely to put up the pictures," said Lipkins, whose Web site, www.insidehazing.com , links to BadJocks. "It takes energy and effort. Boys are more laid back. They don't need to show it off. They don't care how many hits their site gets. And the real extreme stuff, the boys know it shouldn't be put up. They do seem to recognize it's hazing."

William Schut, a former UAlbany assistant athletic director who now runs the Web site thencaaaisweakonhazing . blogspot.com, suggested men's players, who tend to be more high-profile, are more conscious of their public image and less likely to post compromising photos of themselves.

Schut's Web site, which posted links to the photos of the UAlbany women's lacrosse team, includes links to Webshots albums of 30 teams that he alleges are engaging in hazing. Of the 30 teams, 21 are women's teams, though not all are Division I.

"Women are less likely to be caught," Schut said. "The reason is because obviously everyone focuses all their time and attention on the revenue-generating sports, which are the men's sports. You'll never see a picture of a Duke basketball player. You're not going to find USC football players, though trust me, we look."

Hank Nuwer, a professor at Franklin (Ind.) College who has written four books on hazing, agreed, saying, "If (men) belong to fraternities, they've heard the hazing rap a lot more. They've had a lot more education, probably, than some others, like the women's teams."

Experts and administrators at local schools hope to change that.

UAlbany athletic director Lee McElroy, who also serves as president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, said he plans to bring hazing experts to the NACDA's next national meeting and make the topic a priority. At UAlbany, he said administrators plan to review the hazing policy and push for new initiatives to educate students about the dangers not only of hazing but also of posting pictures online.

Kermit Hall, UAlbany's president, said the school also plans to more clearly define hazing.

"Part of what comes out of all this is we are going to have a much better definition of what constitutes a 'rookie night,' " Hall said.

UAlbany women's lacrosse coach Lindsey Hart did not respond to a request for an interview, nor did any of her players.

Unlike UAlbany, where school officials quickly wrapped up their investigation and were forthcoming in discussing the issue, Union has maintained a wall of silence almost from the time its investigation started. The athletic department refused to specify what its investigation revealed and has not commented since. Union athletic director Jim McLaughlin declined to be interviewed for this story. Union women's soccer coach Brian Speck did not return phone calls or e-mails. Several past and present Union players did not return phone messages.

At Siena, athletic director John D'Argenio said he brought people from Siena's career center to a recent coaches' meeting. The career center made a presentation about the hazards of posting pictures on sites like Webshots and www.myspace.com .

"The people at the career center tell us employers are now looking at these sites when they're making hires," D'Argenio said. "You think nobody's looking at these sites, or it's just your friends, and all of a sudden it costs you a job at a big financial institution."

But those crusading for stricter hazing policies say cautioning students about the dangers of posting photos addresses only a symptom, not the root problem.

Stevens, the mother of Chuck Stenzel, said after a speech at one college, two women approached her with a story of their team initiation -- they were asked to parade across a table in their underwear while their friends critiqued their bodies. At another school, women told Stevens they were made to climb a water tower, consume a six pack of beer at the top, then climb down.

"It still goes on," Stevens said. "It seems to be an important rite of passage. Kids want it or expect it. I've spoken to thousands of kids who feel like it's an integral part of being in the group. I remember kids from a high school team, they were wrapped in duct tape when they came out of the shower, then it was peeled off of them. It was supposedly a lot of fun. They don't perceive it as dangerous."

Iorizzo can be reached by e-mail at piorizzo@timesunion.com . Staff writer Mark Singelais contributed to this report.

Growing problem

Though experts say conclusive data about hazing remains scarce, a number of national surveys have offered some insight into how widespread hazing has become.

In a study by Colleen McGlone, a professor at Coastal Carolina University, 48.5 percent of females reported being hazed. Another 31 percent witnessed hazing on their teams, and 33 percent admitted to hazing another student.

A survey of 2,027 NCAA athletes by Alfred University found that 80 percent had been hazed. About 50 percent were forced to participate in alcohol-related hazing or drinking contests.

A survey led by a University of Maine professor found the following: "Only 28 percent of respondents said they were told about anti-hazing policies when joining a team or student organization, and only 22 percent say they were given a written copy of campus policies." -- Pete Iorizzo

On the Internet

Recent incidents have brought national media attention to Web sites devoted to everything from showing hazing pictures to hazing resources. Here's a quick guide to a few of the sites out there:

Hazing photos

thencaaisweakonhazing.blogspot.com Run by William Schut, a former University at Albany assistant director of athletics, the site posted photos from team parties at 30 schools, including UAlbany. Many of the photos have been removed, but the site continues to track the investigations. Schut's ultimate hope is that the NCAA passes hazing legislation.

www.badjocks.com Where most of the photo appear early on in the discovery process, usually well before colleges realize what's going on at their own schools and in their own athletic departments. Operated by a man using the name Bob Reno in East Lansing, Mich., BadJocks documents the misdeeds of athletes. The photos of Union's women's soccer team were posted here.

Hazing resources

www.stophazing.org The site, operated by Hank Nuwer, an author of four hazing books, includes links to a variety of hazing resources. His site includes one of the most detailed histories of hazing incidents. It also links to Nuwer's blog, where he offers commentary on hazing investigations. On the blog, he offers sharp criticism of UAlbany's ruling.

www.insidehazing.com Susan Lipkins, a psychologist who studies hazing, runs this site, which includes definitions of hazing and links to media coverage. She also includes some of her hazing theories. Her contact information is included.

Timelines

A look at how hazing stories developed at the University at Albany and Union College:

May 18: Union launches an investigation after photos purportedly of its women's soccer team were posted on www.badjocks.com . The school cannot immediately confirm whether the photos show past or present Union players but removes photos of soccer players from the school Web site.

May 31: A Web site (thencaaisweakonhazing.blogspot.com ) operated by a former University at Albany assistant athletic director posts links to photographs from a UAlbany women's lacrosse team party. The site alleges the photos show hazing. UAlbany says it plans to investigate. Meanwhile, Union's probe continues.

June 1: UAlbany president Kermit Hall says he is taking the hazing allegations "very seriously."

June 13: Union wraps up its probe but declines to release the results. The Schenectady County district attorney's office says it won't get involved, because no student pressed charges.

June 15: Union announces that hazing occurred on its women's soccer team during the 2003-04 academic year. The school does not elaborate on what, if any, punishment would be given to those involved. Union says only, "Appropriate action will be taken."

June 21: UAlbany announces it found no evidence of hazing on its women's lacrosse team, though it did plan to investigate possible violations of the school's alcohol policy. -- Pete Iorizzo

Source: Peter Iorizzo, First published: Sunday, July 9, 2006 in the Times Union, Albany, NY, www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=498156&category=REGION&newsdate=7/9/2006

Athletes' lives laid open by blogs, photo sites


The Northwestern women's soccer players had no idea what a stir a few pictures could cause.

They should have.

Teens, tweens and college students are using the Internet as their primary means of communication these days, posting personal information, photos and random thoughts to share with friends.

But it's not only friends and acquaintances getting the all-access pass, and some athletes are finding themselves overexposed.

"People are under the assumption that whatever they post is on some top-secret Web site that nobody can get to. It's not," said John Planek, athletic director at Chicago's Loyola University.

"The whole world can see it. That's why there are three letters at the beginning of it: the World Wide Web."

Schools are scrambling to adjust. Last December, Planek told Loyola's athletes to get off Facebook.com, a social-networking site primarily for high school and college students, or risk losing their scholarships. The Ramblers also are strongly discouraged from posting on similar sites such as MySpace.com or Webshots.com.

Earlier this week, a high school district in suburban Chicago approved disciplinary action against athletes and students in other extracurriculars for inappropriate or illegal activity on blogs and Web sites. Universities throughout the country are reminding students to think before they post.

"One of the suggestions I make to athletic departments is to inform your athletes that when you're using Facebook or other social networks, or even blogs, they're subject to public scrutiny," said Michael Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State and author of "Interpersonal Divide: The Search for Community in a Technological Age."

"You might as well be talking to a reporter if you're a student who participates in the public arena," Bugeja added. "Think ahead of time about the possible consequences of your actions. If you're able to live with the consequences, then you do it. If you're not able to live with the consequences, then you don't."

Never was that more clear than with last week's rash of photos showing athletes behaving badly. On May 15, the badjocks.com Web site published photos of the Northwestern women's soccer team in an alleged hazing. Players were dressed in T-shirts and underwear in several of the pictures, while team members were blindfolded and had their hands tied behind their backs in others.

Two days later, badjocks.com posted photos of alleged hazing by club or varsity athletes at 11 other schools, including Princeton, Michigan, Wake Forest and UC-Santa Barbara. Iowa is investigating its baseball team for possible inappropriate behavior after photos of college-age men standing naked with hats over their genitals were found on another Web site.

Hazing is forbidden at most schools, and Northwestern suspended the soccer team pending an investigation. In an apology released earlier this week, the players said they were surprised and embarrassed at the attention they've drawn.

"We never foresaw that what began as a well-intentioned night of team unity and celebration would have such severe consequences," the players wrote in the letter, published Monday in the school's student newspaper, The Daily Northwestern, "and we are embarrassed that our actions have become the source of such harsh criticism."

College and high school students today have had access to computers since they were toddlers, and using the Internet, cell phones and PDAs is second nature. They get their homework assignments, lectures and music off the Internet. They're as likely to use their cell phone to send a text message as to make a call.

So it's no surprise that sites such as Facebook and MySpace, which allow them to create personal Web pages and connect with friends, are so popular. MySpace, which has a user base of nearly 80 million, ranks in the top 10 among U.S. Web sites for both page views (second) and unique visitors to the site (eighth), according to comScore Media Metrix. Facebook, which requires users to have an e-mail from a registered high school, college or company, said it has 7.7 million users, two-thirds of whom visit the site daily.

But technical savvy doesn't guarantee privacy.

"We have unleashed this technological capability on society and it's helping us in amazing ways. But there's also a downside to it," said Sam McQuade, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology who specializes in cybercrime and technology issues.

"The biggest concern I have is that students are naive about ways in which that data can be harvested and used against them in the short, medium and long term, for a variety of malicious ways."

That applies to all students. But since athletes are the closest thing to celebrities at a college or high school, their risk of getting caught in the Web's glare is that much greater.

Look at the photos that surfaced last week. Fraternities and sororities have gotten busted for hazing, but those stories didn't have the same impact as the pictures on badjocks.com.

"If there's bad behavior going on, it doesn't make it OK if somebody's not an athlete," said Bob Reno, creator of badjocks.com. "But there's obviously more scrutiny as (athletic) programs make more money."

Added Iowa State's Bugeja, "Student-athletes are high-profile students. And because they're high-profile, what happens to student-athletes inherently becomes more newsworthy."

Notoriety was one thing Planek was hoping to avoid when he banned Loyola's athletes from Facebook. But he had other concerns, as well. Identify theft and personal safety. His athletes' grades. Their futures.

"We've worked all year to alert students to be more thoughtful instead of naively posting something on the Web about themselves," said Yonie Harris, the dean of students at UC-Santa Barbara. While some grumble that attempts to crack down on posting is an invasion of privacy or a violation of First Amendment rights, educators say they're well within their rights. Nobody is telling student-athletes they can't post, said Prentiss Lea, the associate superintendent at Community High School District 128 in suburban Chicago, which voted this week to make inappropriate posts subject to disciplinary action.

They just want kids to be smarter about it.
Source: msn.foxsports.com/other/story/5650888?GT1=8297

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