Compiled by Lime Blake
Ryerson’s engineering society met with the university’s president Sheldon Levy today over the hazing of students last week.
“There is no excuse for the completely unacceptable activities that took place at the event, and anyone who contends it is ‘just fun’ or ‘builds community’ has no place at Ryerson,” university president Sheldon Levy said in a statement posted on Saturday. He added that he is determined to ensure “this kind of behaviour never happens again.”
In the video, engineering students are shown squirting water guns at students – many of which who crawled through the slush in their underwear. One male student is seen smacking the behind of one female hopeful as she crawls past him on her hands and knees.
“The university is categorical in affirming it does not condone student conduct that demeans individuals in any way, and I am making clear our shock and anger in the face of this departure from dignity,” Levy said in his statement.
The Toronto Star reported students involved in the event said they felt Levy is overreacting.
Ryerson Engineering Student Society President Rose Ghamari, told the Star the event has been held every year for students who are applying to be event leaders during Frosh Week in the fall. Ghamari said this has been the seventh year of the event.t.
“It’s an event to get them out of their comfort zone and show their engineering spirit,” Ghamari told the Star. “It was not intended to be hazing, that was not our intention.”
Ghamari told the Star the event was totally optional.
“It was not a hazing,” first-year chemical engineering student, Gabriel Wright, told the Toronto Star. “It’s completely optional and everyone there was smiling and having a good time. It was just a celebration.”
Wright did not participate in the event and instead watched from the sidelines, although he applied to be a Frosh Week leader. He told the Star he did not want to be subject to getting ill because of the -4C winter weather.
In an interview with the CBC’s Matt Galloway, Ryerson Vice-Provost of students Heather Lane Vetere said that even if the event was voluntary, the power the senior engineering students held over the juniors made the event a hazing , which puts people through “humilating” forced experiences.
“As soon as you see senior students throwing things at [the hopefuls], slapping them, spraying them, and yelling at them, it crosses the line into hazing,” Vetere told the CBC.
While previous Ryerson “initiations” included crazy stunts and silly costumes, Vetere told the CBC this is the closest she had ever seen to an actual hazing on campus, and students will always try to out do the previous year’s events.
In another report, Ghamari told the CBC, “Our intention was never to have anyone crawl through the slush. That was not the purpose of the event.”
In the report, Ghamari said she was looking forward to meeting with Ryerson administration to discuss Thursday’s event and take motion to ensure something similar does not happen again in the future.
“This incident does not represent the principles of civil society, and the positive and supportive culture of Ryerson,” Levy said in his statement.