Towson Hazing No Tolerance; Cheerleaders Suspended

    September 1, 2013

Thursday, officials from Towson University announced a one-year suspension for the Towson Tigers cheerleading squad as punishment for allegedly disobeying Towson’s hazing policies. An anonymous tip sparked an investigation earlier this month. Towson was founded in 1866 and is located eight miles north of Baltimore, Maryland.

“Hazing in any form will not be tolerated at Towson University,” vice president for student affairs, Deb Moriarty vowed. Moriarty explained that more information was being withheld to protect students’ privacy and rights, “that includes their right to appeal the suspension.” The head cheerleading coach, Edy Pratt, was instructed not to comment.

The cheerleading team took first place in April at the National Cheerleaders Association’s collegiate championship. That win gave them an automatic place in this year’s competition however, performances at competitions and athletic events, as well as practices, are forbidden with the suspension. The team can appeal through next week. Moriarty says the university will look to its fan development program to carry the spirit at events.

Suspension of an entire team may be the exception, not the rule, according to Jim Lord, executive director of the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators. “I have never heard of a whole team getting suspended.”

Universities have long struggled with hazing on teams and at sororities and fraternities. In 2011, a Florida A&M drum major, Robert Champion, died due to a hazing incident. The band will make its comeback on Sunday after two years of reorganization following Champion’s death. The University initiated several standards designed to prevent future hazing tragedies including a new code of conduct, anti-hazing research and refreshed reporting and investigating protocols.

HazingPrevention.Org, a 5-year-old group whose mission is to empower people to prevent college and university hazing, is currently sponsoring the fourth running of #40 Answers 2013 a Twitter-based campaign that precedes National Hazing Prevention Week, September 23-27. The Week is also sponsored by HPO, which was originated when the Association of Fraternity Advisors decided a national symposium on the issue was warranted.

[Image via Towson University website.]