[Updated] Open Letter To Ryerson University Engineering Students About Thursday’s Hazing…

This is not okay...

This is not okay…

Update: Sheldon Levy, the president of Ryerson University just released a letter harshly denouncing Thursday’s hazing.

Dear Ryerson Engineering Students,

One of the most effective first steps used to dehumanize people is to ask them to take off their clothes in the presence of fully dressed leaders. This practice is so effective it’s become a standard procedure in the military, prisons, gulags and the TSA. Luckily for air travellers, the humiliation only goes as far as a strip-search.

Commanding people to crawl on the ground is an effective technique that’s particularly favoured by the military and people in sadomasochist relationships. In the gulags they’d make people line up outside and stand naked in the snow. Regardless of their tactics militaries, prisons, gulags, gangs and the Ryerson University Engineering program have at least one thing in common- each has an established tradition of dehumanizing initiation rituals…

What happened on Thursday was wrong on so many levels- it was an assault on the dignity of your fellow students, and a black mark on your school. This type of behaviour is also contrary to the ethos of this country- Canadians believe that all people have the right to live in dignity and peace.

The most common objection I’ve received to my criticism is that this event was voluntary, and people had the option of not attending. This is complete rubbish. First there’s the obvious issue of peer pressure and pecking orders, it can be very difficult to fit in and excel within the group when you’re left standing on the sidelines. In the many years you’ve been exercising this “tradition” some people have undoubtedly been hurt.

According to one of the comments your fellow students posted yesterday, there’s evidence some people were physically harmed:

 “The slapper, if you will was the same person who was administering bandages, taking care of all the minor cuts or whatever on peoples elbows, knees etc. I distinctly remember, when I was out of breath during my run in the quad, he came up to me and asked, “You okay bro?””

Before you continue reading, try and see how many things you can find wrong with this paragraph. First, there’s the obvious issue that asking people to crawl across the pond/rink resulted in physical damage to their bodies- this is clearly in violation of Ryerson’s Code of Conduct:

“Students shall not engage in any act which endangers, or could reasonably be seen to endanger the mental or physical health or safety of a student, for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in,a group or organization.”

Did you notice that there’s no mention of an exemption for voluntary events? Ryerson’s policy could, indeed, be more clear in this area, McGill’s policy is more comprehensive when it comes to consent: (Ryerson, can you please fix this?)

“Moreover, it is not an excuse that the new members voluntarily engaged in the activity; their willingness to participate plays absolutely no role in determining whether or not the activity constitutes hazing. There are inherent power imbalances that exist when new teammates seek acceptance within a team or group. New teammates often feel the need to endure hazing rituals and ‘consent’ to participate because they perceive their participation as a condition to gain entrance and social acceptance to the team milieu.”

In 2009, Ryerson’s Manager of Interuniversity Sports made a very clear and powerful statement on hazing in The EyeOpener:

“It’s one of the worst forms of bullying”

Let’s go back to that comment from your fellow student. The “slapper” they were referring to was the man who slapped a woman on her rear in the midldle of a crowd full of strangers. Some of the observers had cameras, others were that woman’s peers- people she’ll have to work with in the future. Is it possible someone could misperceive how ‘innocent’ this act was? (If they’re in an intimate relationship, I offer myself as an example.)

Outside of the University of Toronto’s epic sex club adventure, it’s hard to think where it’s acceptable for a student to slap another on the behind (even then it wasn’t really acceptable). This rule goes tenfold when the person slapping is in a position of power. You can double the score if the person being slapped is of an opposite gender, and bonus points if she’s cold, vulnerable, scantily dressed and scraping her skin while crawling through dirty slush.

Well, at least the guy who slapped her helped put on the bandages afterwards- let’s just hope he didn’t offer to kiss anything better…

Spectators with cameras...

Spectators with cameras…

Next, let’s address the many problematic accessibility issues with this event, many of you have written saying this  experience is an essential part of your organization’s team building- how many people have been pushed out of this important ritual because of circumstances outside their control?

Those who have physical disabilities will probably have to sit this one out, it’s hard to slither across a dirty pond if you walk with crutches or a cane. Students of certain religions won’t be able to partake by default- if there’s an engineering student who wears a veil, she’s unlikely to be walking around in her underwear. Some people with body issues may feel too uncomfortable to join. And, people who’ve been victims of sexual assault may have been horrified by this event.

But that’s alright- the healthy, heathen (kidding), buff kids all had the most fabulous day!

Classy...

Classy (and rather impatient…)

You may have been too busy studying for exams to have read this week’s edition of the EyeOpener, but there’s a battle happening at Ryerson this week over the rights of some students to setup a group dedicated to men’s issues. The Ryerson Student Union (which, I suspect, doesn’t represent the values of many engineering students) has been actively trying to block this group forming- despite the fact they’ve not provided solid evidence to back their case.

The leaders in the RSU will, undoubtedly, take a very vocal stand about what happened on Thursday- given their history of fighting against sexual harassment, and their Consent Is Sexy campaign, they’ll have to speak out. And, now, those in the RSU who want to shut-down the speech of the men’s group have a little bit more ammunition. Great work!

Which Ryerson tradition is more important to you- hazing and humiliating fellow students, or the right to hear the ideas from people of a diversity of opinions? If you’re graduating this year do you have an obligation to care? I’d like to ask you to take a moment and think about the legacy you’re leaving for your school, our community, and the future of your profession.

Are you building a better future, or continuing a tradition that may be harmful to others?

The engineering profession has received a lot of criticism for being a boy’s club that’s somewhat inaccessible to women. Having rituals that involve asking women to strip down to their underwear will undoubtedly result in some women deciding to enter alternative programs. When engineers learn in school that it’s okay to smack a woman’s behind at an official event, this sort of behaviour moves onto the workplace. If any of these activities happened at a corporate, government or non-profit organization we’d likely to see mass firings.

Disturbingly similar to a hazing incident at McGill...

Disturbingly similar to a hazing incident at McGill…

I’ve been hard in my reaction, and some of you are probably feeling a bit bad now. Don’t sweat it, just look at this as an experience that will help you navigate the (less forgiving) channels of your career. If you want to make things better, stand-up and suggest ways to improve the Frosh experience next year. Try to find something inclusive, fun for everyone, and something that enriches people’s lives and builds on your love for each other.

Some of you have written some very ugly responses to me trying to justify what happened. Perhaps you were a bit hot-headed and hurt at the moment- I can understand that, and won’t hold it against you. I will, however, ask that you write me an apology for what you’ve said. In return, I’ll erase the comments you made here or on my YouTube page, all will be forgotten, and your apology will be kept private.

Thanks for listening, and good luck on your upcoming exams.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.genuinewitty.com/2013/03/23/open-letter-to-ryerson-university-engineering-students-about-thursdays-hazing/

65 comments

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    • Raimund on March 23, 2013 at 13:12

    I’m sorry that you’re so terrible at what you claim to do.

    1. I wish you were better at giving insults- it would make it more bearable…

    • daniel on March 23, 2013 at 14:25

    Please feel free to come by the RESS office, which is located at kerr hall 123 during the week to have a friendly discussion about this and stop hiding behind your blog making outrageous claims about something that doesn’t concern you.

    1. Sure, can I take you up on that? I’d love to come over on Monday and tape an interview with you all…

        • Anon on March 23, 2013 at 17:50

        Whoever this daniel person is, he does not speak on behalf of RESS, any concerns or requests for an interview should be directed towards the University. If you or any member of the media visit the RESS office, you will be asked to leave.

    • Krissy Sauren on March 23, 2013 at 14:43

    As a girl, not as a Ryerson engineer, I have to say your sexism astounds me because you actually think its feminism.

    1. This isn’t about feminism- I’m, by far, not an ideological zealot. This is about basic human dignity and common sense…

      • Georgian on March 23, 2013 at 16:47

      Don’t feel need to explain what you mean. I have come to learn from some who claim to be feminists that explanation of insinuations and vitriol is not necessary. Oh…and by the way, it’s “it’s”. I won’t explain why that’s so, in order that I be more feminist.

    • jo on March 23, 2013 at 14:52

    So you obviously won’t let this go since it’s probably the most publicity you’ve ever had. But to clear up some things for you:

    1. Muslim women HAVE participated in this event, they wear their hijabs and are fully covered, it is not mandatory to be in your underwear.
    2. Engineers love to freak people out. It’s the reason we get dyed purple and run around half naked and purple in the summer. People chose to be half naked because it gains more attention.
    3. Your issue seems to be sexualization of women. I’m a female engineer and I feel offended that you feel the “need” to protect me from my own body. I am an adult female and I can chose what I wear, if the “scantily clad” clothing offends you, please leave the campus.
    4. Many people chose not to participate and instead watch. They are just as accepted and usually laugh in the end with those who participated, and bond just as well.

    • James Russels on March 23, 2013 at 15:06

    What the fuck did you just fucking say about me, you little bitch? I’ll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Navy Seals, and I’ve been involved in numerous secret raids on Al-Quaeda, and I have over 300 confirmed kills. I am trained in gorilla warfare and I’m the top sniper in the entire US armed forces. You are nothing to me but just another target. I will wipe you the fuck out with precision the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth, mark my fucking words. You think you can get away with saying that shit to me over the Internet? Think again, fucker. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of spies across the USA and your IP is being traced right now so you better prepare for the storm, maggot. The storm that wipes out the pathetic little thing you call your life. You’re fucking dead, kid. I can be anywhere, anytime, and I can kill you in over seven hundred ways, and that’s just with my bare hands. Not only am I extensively trained in unarmed combat, but I have access to the entire arsenal of the United States Marine Corps and I will use it to its full extent to wipe your miserable ass off the face of the continent, you little shit. If only you could have known what unholy retribution your little “clever” comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your fucking tongue. But you couldn’t, you didn’t, and now you’re paying the price, you goddamn idiot. I will shit fury all over you and you will drown in it. You’re fucking dead, kiddo.

    1. I’m sorry, have you come to the right place? We’re talking about Ryerson, not Full Metal Jacket…

      • Standing Water on March 23, 2013 at 16:13

      What in Davy Jones’ locker did ye just bark at me, ye scurvy bilgerat? I’ll have ye know I be the meanest cutthroat on the seven seas, and I’ve led numerous raids on fishing villages, and raped over 300 wenches. I be trained in hit-and-run pillaging and be the deadliest with a pistol of all the captains on the high seas. Ye be nothing to me but another source o’ swag. I’ll have yer guts for garters and keel haul ye like never been done before, hear me true. You think ye can hide behind your newfangled computing device? Think twice on that, scallywag. As we parley I be contacting my secret network o’ pirates across the sea and yer port is being tracked right now so ye better prepare for the typhoon, weevil. The kind o’ monsoon that’ll wipe ye off the map. You’re sharkbait, fool. I can sail anywhere, in any waters, and can kill ye in o’er seven hundred ways, and that be just with me hook and fist. Not only do I be top o’ the line with a cutlass, but I have an entire pirate fleet at my beck and call and I’ll damned sure use it all to wipe yer arse off o’ the world, ye dog. If only ye had had the foresight to know what devilish wrath your jibe was about to incur, ye might have belayed the comment. But ye couldn’t, ye didn’t, and now ye’ll pay the ultimate toll, you buffoon. I’ll shit fury all over ye and ye’ll drown in the depths o’ it. You’re fish food now

      • Tamara on March 23, 2013 at 17:21

      Here’s something for you Ryerson students to consider: voluntary or not, it is very distressing that you guys think it is OK (and this has been tradition over time it seems) to have a situation where some take the position of people of power yelling and commanding others into denigrating positions. Think about this for a moment… it was voluntary, however what it portrays is a situation where one group of people is in a position of power over others and degrades them, humiliates them, and treats them as powerless, lesser, slaves in fact. It was voluntary so you were all ‘playing at” being being powerful vs powerless, higher up vs lower downs but if you think about it, what does it teach? It teaches that those above have power over those below… It teaches that one should not be below on the ladder of power. It may not seem that way to you at fist glance, and it may not be what you were thinking,but there ARE elements of this in such activities. And Ok, some people (S&M) get off on that and that is their business, but unless you were all into that there are some issues here.

      In terms of everyday society, does one want to support the vision of those of power being able to order those below to do things that most people would find degrading? I never liked the idea of hazing for this. Why should one have to humiliate themselves for the amusement of others to join a club? If this was not the case here, so be it but please keep in mind what it may have appeared to be to others. And if it wasn’t a hazing, Ok but he thought it was… even if it wasn’t, it’s still disturbing. That is why Greg is concerned, because he saw what he believed to be abuse of others. Perhaps he misunderstood, but I DO see elements here of denigration in the roles you all chose to play. I would never want to take either role, as I do not like to be in a position of play abuse or play denigration. Since it was all play no one was hurt, but the message to those watched was of hierarchy and abusive power. Take a look at it from an outside perspective and maybe you will understand why some people are concerned. Look at it from the viewpoint of someone just walking by.

      As angry as you are at Greg, I ask you to consider the fact that he reacted this way BECAUSE he was concerned that people were being harmed, and is further concerned that, even though this was in fun, there are elements in it that caused/ could cause some harm. Perhaps you don’t like how he went about it, but at least you know he is someone who cares. If someone is in danger he will be there to help, he will be one of the ones who brings it to light. There are too many people in the world who, when they see abuse or corruption happening in the world (or think they do), just ignore it and let it continue. Greg is not one of them. He and some others care. We need more people willing to speak out when they see abuse and corruption happening. So whether he made a mistake here or not, at least recognize the fact that he cared enough to speak out. If you guys have problems at Ryerson, he will help you. He’ll speak out for you as a member of the alternative media. He’s not against you guys, he’s just concerned about what he saw. Peace.

        • Nathan on March 23, 2013 at 17:41

        Thank you. Finally an unbiased analysis of everything that has been said and done.

        I am personally not angry at Greg, though a little annoyed at the way he jumped the power spectrum and skipped so many middlemen and went straight to the top with this. This issue went from a blogger, to a city councilor, to the Toronto police department to Ryerson University, all without ever once speaking to a participant, the organizer, or anybody else about the event for that matter.

        Perhaps we need to reconsider the effect the event has on bystanders, but I assure you that if you were to ask anyone who participated (coveralls or not) they would tell you that they enjoyed it. If that isn’t the case or anyone felt pressured we set up anonymous ways of getting a message to the people in charge to express those concerns. No responses yet.

        I thank you Greg for your concerns with our well-being, but as the University is now involved and resolving the issue I would ask that you not contact our society as another commenter suggested. This issue will be dealt with by Ryerson as they have more of an understanding of the situation.

        1. Nathan,

          Thanks for being so open and cordial- I appreciate it.

          You can’t assume that everybody enjoyed what happened. In situations like this, where peer-pressure is an issue, the people most likely to be going through hell are the least likely to make any complaints. At least one person who has been hazed this way has already spoken out:

          VictimHazingStatement

          As for “skipping the middlemen”, I’m a writer and not a member of Ryerson. If you do stupid things in-front of a writer, expect to be written about. This is another good reason not to do stupid things out in public…

            • Nathan on March 24, 2013 at 02:07

            Oh Joey you silly goose, don’t you know that sarcasm isn’t conveyed very well over the internet. Oh well, he has been taking many other posts and using them out of context, don’t feel bad about it. I know you had a good time because I have spoken to you personally since the event. But man Joey, you really walked into that one.

            “In situations like this, where peer-pressure is an issue, the people most likely to be going through hell are the least likely to make any complaints.”
            Ouch, see what you did here hurts. You have effectively created a situation where there is nothing that can be possibly done to reasonably verify people aren’t experiencing peer pressure, because if asked and they respond with “No I didn’t feel pressured” you can take that to mean “I felt pressured but didn’t feel comfortable saying anything.” What this does is attempt to remove any chance that you are incorrect with regard to your view on the situation. It doesn’t mean you are right, it just means that your statement makes a situation in which you can’t possibly be wrong. While it is potentially impossible to remove peer pressure completely from anything I believe that our attempts to remove it from our event are more than reasonable, as explained above, and the participants agree.

            “This is another good reason not to do stupid things out in public…”
            If a good reason to not do something in public, stupid or otherwise, was because you cared what other people thought of you, (specifically someone who does not know you personally, and has no intention of getting to know you personally) then everything that I was taught as a child has been turned upside down. I was taught to live my life in a way that I am proud of, no matter what others think of me, so I don’t think I’ll take your advice in this instance.

    • Anonymous Arts on March 23, 2013 at 15:21

    I think you should forward the YouTube video and your post to the following people, I wouldn’t want to see this stuff happen on my lovely campus again

    Tony Conte, [email protected], Office of the Provost
    Mohamed Lachemi, [email protected],dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science
    Mark Aita, [email protected] and [email protected], Student Conduct Officer

    From the Ryerson Engineering Student Society (who plans/ran/endorses this shameful activity)

    The Orientation Comittee, [email protected]
    The Society President, [email protected]

    but I would be hesitant sending them emails, the fish rots from the head.

    It seems like you’re finished with this from your blog post, but I hope this helps solve this problem on our campus =]

    1. Thank you. It’s come to my attention that the Ryerson executive are now aware of the problem and will be taking action to investigate. Let’s hope some of the students throwing attacks to deflect the criticism sort themselves out before things are sorted for them…

    • Elmer Fudd on March 23, 2013 at 16:24

    Students, meet your president:
    A statement from President Levy about activities at a recent engineering event
    http://ryerson.ca/ryersontoday/data/news/2013/03/20130323_president.html

  1. Anyone willing to discuss this incident with the Toronto Star please call 416-814-2764, or email [email protected]

    • female engineer on March 23, 2013 at 18:07

    so what you’re trying to say is if someone gets injured during a game of soccer…no one should play the game of soccer anymore?

    and since you’re so concerned about our safety, and the girl who got slapped…why didnt you ask her if she was okay when it happened, or speak to the guy who did it? instead you continued to record it because all you’re looking for is some attention for your blog.

    try writing about some real issues going on in toronto, or the world…

    1. Your lack of logic indicates you may make a better art’s student than an engineer. Please think about it and consider if you’re on the right educational track…

        • Ex-Engineering Arts Student on March 23, 2013 at 23:36

        “Your lack of logic indicates you may make a better art’s student than an engineer.” I’m not saying I agree with the female engineer comment (I don’t, especially the first line), but as an Arts student who studies economics, mathematics, and critical thinking, I don’t think that kind of stereotyping is necessary. All it is is a low, personal attack that makes you seem less respectable and doesn’t help your argument at all.

        1. Apologies- no offence to arts students. (I’ve studied both engineering and arts…) I’ll chose better examples in the future…

    • Abhinav on March 23, 2013 at 19:02

    Why don’t you answer the question?

    Did you choose to not do anything to help the girl that you THOUGHT was in distress so that you could use this as a media opportunity?

    1. No. I was deeply disturbed by what I saw happening- this sort of behaviour was banned a long time ago for many good reasons. I felt, and still feel, that it’s in the public interest to let people know things like this are still happening in Canadian universities…

        • Abhinav on March 23, 2013 at 19:06

        So you admit it. You wanted the public to know, therefore you did nothing and let something that you thought was wrong continue to happen, instead of say dialing 911.

        You chose to do nothing and use this as a media opportunity for yourself.

        1. You’re school’s executives disagree- you’re on the wrong side of history here…

          http://ryerson.ca/ryersontoday/data/news/2013/03/20130323_president.html

            • Nathan on March 24, 2013 at 02:18

            “Your school’s executives disagree- you’re on the wrong side of history here…”
            Just out of personal curiosity, what part of Abhinav’s statements do the school executives disagree with? Because from what I see Abhinav has posted a simple question about your actions. Nothing to do with the event, your actions. You have attempted to use something completely unrelated to the question to escape from giving a legitimate answer because it is a question that makes you look like a bad person. Maybe you aren’t a bad person, I really shouldn’t be the judge of that, just as you shouldn’t be the judge of our actions. He gave you a taste of how it feels to have something that you did put under intense scrutiny by someone misinformed in an attempt to make it wrong. And in my opinion he succeeded as you look pretty bad right about now.

            The way I see it you posted this for one reason and one reason only. In an attempt to infuriate Abhinov. When people are angry they say things that they don’t mean out of that anger. All you are looking for is the next person who says something that you can misquote. Nice try, but your attempt seems to have backfired a little.

    • Allen on March 23, 2013 at 20:41

    This is not the only event where actions that shame other engineering students take place. Ryerson’s engineering Frosh week is also host to some humiliating actions that shame all engineers. I hope journalists and writers also take interest into such events during the frosh week as it might hopefully put an end to unprofessional behavior that damages the reputation of Ryerson engineering and its students.

      • Allen on March 23, 2013 at 20:48

      Furthermore, it came to my attention that the facebook ryEng group is now listed as secret. A message to those people who had a say in it: That is extremely low and coward-like. You are a shame to engineering!

        • Nathan on March 24, 2013 at 01:13

        Dear Allen,

        Many people within the RyEng group are being harassed by a Toronto Star Journalists and would like not to be. The groups purpose is to provide a forum where any engineer can ask other engineers questions. It was being abused for a different purpose so the group has turned secret to protect the privacy of the members for the time being. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused you. It will hopefully be back to an open group soon. Just need to wait for the media to calm down.

        • farnsworth on March 24, 2013 at 05:41

        Shame to engineering? How about keeping your journalistic integrity? Is it normal for journalists to call my friends grandparents personal home line asking for their cell phone number and information? Or how about harassing me and everyone on my friendslist on their emails, facebook and twitter? I’m glad the the admin made it private, I dont need this kind of harassment in my personal life after solving a set of fourier series problems

        1. I can assure you, I’ve not contacted anyone related to you- it must be another reporter…

    1. Thank you for sharing. I’ll be taking a special interest in that- will also be looking into hazing activities at other local universities…

    • Jackash on March 23, 2013 at 22:45

    Yea man this is stupid … hazing. Sure its for fun but how immature can these university students get. People want to be frosh leaders but have to go through this bullshit to become one? Ryerson should be a bout partying it up on gould instead of embarrassing themselves and their dignity. You wont see any mature scholar student participating in that shit. People got to start acting their age.

    • Alex on March 24, 2013 at 09:46

    Being forced to take off your shirt isn’t “standard procedure” in the military… certainly not the Canadian military. In fact, if ordered to do so you have the right to refuse because it would be an unlawful order. As for the hazing… I had it much worse in grade 9 orientation.

    • Elmer Fudd on March 24, 2013 at 09:52

    To the RyeEng students who organized this event,

    You have made a mistake that is threatening your university career and need to get beyond your belief in your innocence. Before you get into another round of arguing that you weren’t hazing anyone, you need to step back and understand what hazing is. Anyone who sees the video and understands what university hazing is, will recognize immediately what you were doing.

    You also need to sit up and take notice about how your university is responding to your actions. Your president has been clear “anyone who contends it is ‘just fun’ or ‘builds community’ has no place at Ryerson.”

    Do you want to improve the odds of being Ryerson students after Monday? If you do, then the best thing you can do is consider that you have probably hurt someone. You need to admit to yourselves that you cannot know the feelings of everyone in the event. Time to begin to acknowledge that.

    As an engineering student you have faced difficult tests. You are about to face another one. I hope you prepare for it by beginning to understand you’ve made a mistake.

    I hope all of you pass the test on Monday and that you learn something from your mistake.

      • MadCat on March 25, 2013 at 12:09

      Wow Elmer, why don’t you take your Victorian era judgemental tone and shove it up your ass. Engineers have been doing this and other activities like it in good fun FOR YEARS. The ONLY reason this is in the public’s attention is because blowhards who are waayyyyy removed from the environment/situation who have no idea what is going on, decide to pass judgement. (Yourself included)

      Tell me something.. why didn’t the president speak out about this FOR THE LAST SEVEN YEARS? Because since it was not caught on YouTube, he had nothing to seemingly gain politically from this. I really hope engineers from other ontario institutions unite in support of RyeEng. There is a very good chance that this will blow back hard in the face of Levy and the Councillors who went looking for a photo-op.

        • Elmer Fudd on March 25, 2013 at 18:58

        So you sent Rose in to apologize on your behalf, explain that you really did cross the line, and have now decided you were vindicated. I didn’t expect all of you would learn something from this. It’s a shame Ryerson isn’t going to invest the effort in sorting more of you out.

    • Nathan on March 24, 2013 at 14:34

    For anyone who would like to read a real article on this subject with sources and quotes that examines both sides in an unbiased fashion, I refer you to the Toronto Star:

    http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/03/24/ryerson_university_engineering_student_group_under_fire_over_halfnaked_romp_through_slush.html

      • The Hammer on March 24, 2013 at 19:49

      You must be an idealistic university student if you think the Toronto Red Star is unbiased about anything lol.

        • Nathan on March 24, 2013 at 21:09

        Dear “The Hammer”,

        I didn’t say that the Toronto Star was unbiased, I said that the article I was linking was unbiased. There are no opinions. All that are given are quotes from people involved, such as the president of RESS, the president of the University, and a first year Engineering student who did not participate in the event. The decision to condemn the event or not is left up to the reader. At this point I would take any form of article over what has been posted on this site. The writer of this blog not only posted an article with no factual information, he then posted a “follow-up” article with no new information.

        I have seen your comments on several other articles from past blog posts on this site, and have no problem saying that you are not somebody willing to listen to reason. I will therefore give up trying to convince you of anything and move on to other things.

          • The Hammer on March 25, 2013 at 18:19

          You still miss the point. But that is okay. I am sure life is happy and good in your little bubble.

      1. Oh, that’s so very true…

  2. Question. Why are all the people who volunteered being ignored by you? Are they so enchanted by the system that they aren’t allowed to voice their opinion. You drone on them your perception of them. When they try to explain to you that no they are not harmed. Why are you still fighting for their cause. This “covies protest” is still voluntary. So asking the group of volunteers from every year would be a better unbiased view. You only demonstrate your view as an outsider. Justified as you are to have your opinion. You should not belittle other people’s opinion to make your own stand out better. You sound misguided and out of place. I wish you would conduct a better understanding of the process or take a course on psychology. To have a more informed opinion before you pass judgment so easily.

      • Standing Water on March 24, 2013 at 22:27

      There is a school of thought that says one cannot consent to being assaulted—this may be why boxing matches and other “prize fights” require licenses: absent such license, they would be illegal because outside of a highly regimented context people simply cannot consent to such activities. So, by extension, a case can be made that people cannot consent to being degraded, no matter how much of a “ha ha” they might think it is. This is not only for their own safety, it is to help safeguard human dignity in general.

      There are all sorts of constructive, dignity-enhancing team-building exercises possible. Rather than dogmatically defend what is obviously a dehumanizing quasi-hazing event, why not accept that these sorts of actions are no longer appropriate in civil society?

        • MadCat on March 25, 2013 at 10:17

        Tell me, what’s different between this and a polar bear dip? You know those events that make the 6 o’clock news in winter and everyone says “wow that’s so cool.. those people are brave.. and a little nuts!” You know, during polar bear dips they have a number of folks around who shout encouragement. Are polar bear dips hazing? Should they be outlawed? It is essentially the exact same thing, except people are at far greater risk of being harmed at a polar bear dip.

    • The Hammer on March 24, 2013 at 15:42

    This is indeed a serious issue. Unfortunately some need to learn that the hard way. I saw it myself while in school at UW about 15 years ago. The entire Rugby season was canceled because of hazing.

      • MadCat on March 25, 2013 at 10:11

      The difference being, in my experience, Rugby hazing usually involves INVOLUNTARY activities, which in many cases involve having human feces or urine thrown at you while tied up, or forced to consume copious amounts of alcohol and/or eat things that would make humans physically ill for days. That is hazing and is not ok… taking a polar bear crawl through a small lake is not.

        • The Hammer on March 25, 2013 at 18:24

        One difference compared to many similarities. You are rationalizing the behaviour. Hazing is hazing.

          • MadCat on March 25, 2013 at 21:55

          By your rationale, when i went through orientation at my work and they assigned me a co-worker to train me, that was hazing and should be outlawed.

    • MadCat on March 25, 2013 at 10:07

    Engineers have been doing this stuff for years – and i personally know between 20-30 of them from different universities across Ontario. ALL of them look back at this stuff with VERY fond memories.. they had WAY more fun than the average university student. None of them felt pressured, into doing anything they didn’t want to do – and none of them, even with 10 years of perspective between the events of frosh week and now, have changed their stories. Mr. Grenouf would say something like “Well there’s a culture of denial and none of these folks past or present would dare speak out for fear of being ostracized, but they are all really dying inside” so he can again, make a statement that, despite how false it is, could never be disproved unless you track down every engineering student who ever attended a Canadian university and interview them.

    • Get real on March 25, 2013 at 13:45

    Madcat, are you retarded? Slavery was going on for YEARS, sexism was going on for YEARS, racism was going on for YEARS – just because nothing was said for YEARS doesn’t make it right.

    “The ONLY reason this is in the public’s attention is because blowhards who are waayyyyy removed from the environment/situation who have no idea what is going on, decide to pass judgement. (Yourself included)”

    Let me ask you a question, are you against the mass slaying of jews in WWII? Oh wait, obviously not because obviously you were “wayyyyy removed from the environment/situation [and] have no idea what is going on [to] pass judgement.

    Seriously grow up and stop living in your bubble. In the world of today it is no longer about what you think but what the world sees – and at this point in time, it is disgust at ryerson engineering’s practice. You don’t have to be there to know that its wrong.

      • MadCat on March 25, 2013 at 14:40

      Get real…

      One HUGE flaw in your argument… Slavery and the holocaust WERE NOT INVOLUNTARY.They were examples of rampant hatred and oppression and anyone who was subjected to such things look back at them with horror, as do all sensible human beings. Go ask any of the thousands of engineering students who have either participated, witnessed or heard 3rd party accounts of these orientation events and find a single one who has a problem with them.

      Oh I have a better idea, compare some university kids VOLUNTARILY participating in orientation to slavery and the holocaust.. that’s a great apples to apples example.

      Oh, and by the way… not very PC of you to insult someone by calling them retarded now is it? People with mental disabilities and their families would be much more offended at your language and ignorance than you should be at Engineering Students having some fun. (who, by nature of the fact that they qualified for engineering likely makes them 10-20x more intelligent than yourself). Thanks for coming out though..

    • Duke on March 25, 2013 at 15:36

    Interns voluntarily subject themselves to humiliation, inhumane hours, and no pay and no guarantee of position.

    Students voluntarily subject themselves to at least 20 undesired and pressure cooker exams every semester, for five years of university, and pay over $6000 each that they most likely subject themselves voluntarily to OSAP for ten years of financial hazing.

    Sailors of all stripes subject themselves to the equator for the court of Neptune ceremony.

    It’s called the rite of passage. You did it painfully the first time when you came out of your mothers womb.

    • Nathan on March 25, 2013 at 18:12

    Follow up statement from the president of the University. Enjoy the change of tone. That’s what happens when someone realizes that they didn’t have all the facts.

    http://www.ryerson.ca/ryersontoday/data/news/2013/03/20130325_president.html

    • Michael on March 25, 2013 at 22:31

    I understand how you could appear to perceive this as hazing. However, it simply wasn’t. Any statements to the contrary are simply not factual.

    Ryerson’s policy on hazing is clearly stated:
    “Students shall not engage in any act which endangers, or could reasonably be seen to endanger the mental or physical health or safety of a student, for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in, a group or organization.”

    You are completely correct that it makes no mention of voluntary participation.

    What you appear to be missing however, is that this event has no purpose as per Ryserson’s policy on hazing. Participation in this event does not influence anyone’s membership or admission into the group. There are no consequences (other than your suggestion of social pressure) for not participating. I doubt it is even recorded whether or not someone participated or not. This is just an event they are doing for kicks, or maybe for tradition, but in terms of purpose as defined by Ryerson’s own stated rules, there isn’t one.

    This is an important distinction:
    A)”You don’t have to participate in this event. You don’t have to join our group” is hazing.
    B)”You don’t have to participate in this event. It will have no bearing on your admission to the group, your affiliation with the group, or have any bearing on anything” is not hazing, at least according to Ryerson’s policy.

    1. I understand, and appreciate, what you are saying. But, it’s naive to think that people who opt-out aren’t losing something by doing so. There’s a deep kind of a bonding going on during this event, as many students have stated, so missing it will mean not having the opportunity to share in the experience. There are students out there who will do literally anything asked of them to get a competitive advantage- not matter how distasteful it is. For those kids, this whole experience is bordering on non-consent.

      And, if you remember, it was a student himself who told me this was an “initiation”….

        • MadCat on March 26, 2013 at 09:35

        How do you make broad sweeping statements like “for those kids, this whole experience is bordering on non-consent”? How do you come to that conclusion? I beg you, interview 5 or 10 of them at random and realize just how wrong you are. Yes, a student who happened to be passing by, was as curious as you and said “I guess this is some kind of initiation” and you took that nonchalant generalization as fact. Do you even know if he was a Ryerson student? Or if he knew anything about what he was looking at.

        • Michael on March 26, 2013 at 11:35

        I’m not so sure you do understand or appreciate what I am saying, otherwise you would have responded to my actual point.

        My core point is that according to Ryerson’s own definition of hazing, this is not hazing. Those are simply the facts. ‘Losing out on the experience’ is not a sufficient consequence of non-participation to classify it as hazing. Wouldn’t any activity ever conceived have that as a consequence?

        If I am indeed so naive, please explicitly explain to me why what you saw classifies as hazing under the specific guidelines of Ryerson’s own definitions, because from my perspective it appears that you are dodging the question and misunderstanding their policy and claiming something was “hazing” when it wasn’t.

        Also, I’m sorry that you are basing your idea on whether or not it was an “initiation” from a misinformed student.

    • Remius on March 26, 2013 at 11:25

    What most of the people defending the actions of these students don’t seem to understand is that perception is everything. This has made national news. And yes Ryerson students ARE being portrayed in a bad light because of perception directly linked to their actions and bad judgement. It does not matter if this was a volunteer activity or not. And you can argue about what hazing is truly defined as all you want. This looked like hazing as defined by the public’s perception. And if you do something like this in the public eye expect public reaction. And claiming tradition and using the old “we’ve always done this” is a non starter. I’ve been in the military for almost 20 years now so I know a bit about what real tradition is. And I can tell you that if anyone in a position of authority were to pull something like this, be it volunteer or not, someone would likely be facing jail time. There are many other ways just as, if not more, effective at building teamwork, cohesiveness and inclusivity than this. I find it odd that elite students that claim to be in complicated and difficult programs can’t come up with better ways to do it. Now that being said, I doubt that the students involved were somehow damaged by what they went through and I really do not think the organisers meant any harm by what they did. In the end it probably is not as big a deal as some are making this out to be. But we unfortunately live in a world of cameras, cell phones and instant media. We also live in a world where bad judgement and good intentions have gotten people hurt and or killed. In the end organisers of future events should consider what would happen if what they were doing were to end up in the public eye, what that reaction would be, and maybe reconsider their plan.

      • MadCat on March 26, 2013 at 11:40

      Nope, you’re blowing out of proportion comparing it to military hazing. We all know what that involves! (see that was me not having any knowledge of military hazing and making a sweeping generalization based on hearsay and some 3rd party accounts) Perception is only everything to those who are too lazy to actually find out the real story. This isn’t hazing. Hazing is involuntary and is a barrier to entry of a group or organization. In this event participation was not a barrier to entry and half the students did not participate. Our nanny state mentality gets in the way of real fun sometimes.

        • Remius on March 26, 2013 at 12:24

        Sorry but where did i compare this to military hazing? I stated that if this was done in the military exactly the way students are describing it someone would face disciplinary measures. The fact is that stuff is not acceptable in the military one way or the other. Voluntary or not. It doesn’t matter what the definition of hazing is. I also did not state that this was in fact hazing. Only that it looks like it and unfortunately due to some bad decisions by people who think they know better it is seen that way. On the news, in the media etc etc.

  1. […] Greg Renouf reacted to Sheldon Levy’s denouncement of what was depicted in the video — along with responses to students who took issue with his interpretation of the events — in a follow-up posting. […]

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