Commerce on probation

Redesign of Commerce O-Week follows history of tension over hazing

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This year, Commerce orientation leaders can expect to be watched more closely after a body of the University Senate put them on probation last September. 

On Sept. 25, 2014, a Notice of Probation was sent to the Commerce Office and student leaders responsible for planning the Commerce Orientation Week. The action, undertaken by the Senate body responsible for the oversight of Orientation Week activities, was intended as a “corrective” measure in light of recent reports of hazing activity.

The Queen’s current definition of hazing is: “Any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person’s willingness or consent to participate.” 

It continues to say: “Any action taken or situation created may be deemed hazing regardless of the intent of the organizer(s)”.

In Commerce’s case, this hazing activity was primarily identified in the form of verbal taunting from orientation leaders and when students were pressured to run between events. 

According to the report to Senate following Orientation Week 2014, 22 per cent of respondents to a post-event survey reported that they were required to exert relentless physical energy. In addition, 6 per cent of respondents said they were put down or abused verbally. Survey respondents were from all faculties. 

The probation included the elimination of “verbally abusive and profane taunts” that “intimidate students psychologically or physically” and any “relentless pressure to run” causing “physical exhaustion and psychological stress”. 

The report nullified any hiring decisions that occurred prior to its release. The orientation leaders that will greet the Commerce class of 2019 were hired by a hiring committee that included two representatives acting on behalf of the Senate. 

Moving forward, the terms of the probation will require that the University closely review the success of the week. 

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