Prior to the start of 2017 Orientation Week, several Concurrent Education faculty orientation leaders were de-leadered due to their alleged participation in a ‘hickey party.’ The tradition, practiced annually by Teaches, was brought to the attention of the Senate Orientation Activities Review Board (SOARB) last year.
The hickey party is an unsanctioned event that occurs in the days before the start of Orientation Week. At a house party, all participating Teaches give each other hickeys on their necks, which are later incorporated into a chant in the presence of the first year students.
SOARB was made aware of this party during the 2016 Orientation Week. SOARB Co-chairs Brandon Jamieson, ArtSci ‘17, and Bittu George, the Alumni Association representative on SOARB, discussed the events in question with The Journal.
During the interview, George explained that SOARB met with the 2016 Teach Executive in the fall of last year to confirm the party’s existence. The executive was then allowed the opportunity to justify the continuation of the tradition, via a statement given to SOARB and the Faculty of Education.
Ultimately, “members of the board at the time were not satisfied with their response,” George said.
SOARB took issue with the potential for reluctant participation. “If people feel like they’re [being] coerced and are forced into this, then we have an objection,” George said.
As a result, the SOARB co-chairs at the time encouraged the Con-Ed Orientation Executive to work with the Faculty of Education to hopefully phase the event out. Since SOARB lacks the permission to ban any event without approval from Senate, the Con-Ed Orientation Team said they would instead be happy to work with the faculty to try and move away from the event.
In spite of this discouragement, several Teaches reportedly engaged in the party anyway. Subsequently, SOARB was notified by the Alma Mater Society (AMS) of the suspected incident, alongside the Faculty of Education, the Concurrent Education Students’ Association (CESA) and the Orientation Roundtable (ORT).
The Journal contacted ORT Coordinator Charlotte Corelli and CESA President Liam Dowling to discuss the incident in question. Both declined to comment, citing privacy concerns.
In regards to the Teaches who participated in the hickey party, George commented that as far as SOARB is aware, any orientation leaders who self-identified as attendees at the alleged party were removed from their positions.
“Our understanding [is] that those individuals were deleadered,” George said.
Jamieson added that deleadering orientation leaders is a responsibility that falls under the umbrella of ORT and is one that SOARB would defer to the roundtable.
2017 Head Teach Chloe Demizio was contacted by The Journal in regards to the incident, but also declined to comment due to privacy concerns.
Jamieson and George were unable to comment on any possible ramifications for Con-Ed Orientation Week or further consequences for the leaders who participated.
“We’re still in a fact-finding phase, for sure. We don’t want to be leaping to conclusions or making decisions without properly consulting and looking into the matter,” Jamieson said.
The Faculty of Education, led by the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Peter Chin, is currently investigating the matter. As such, Jamieson said SOARB will likely defer to the faculty when deciding on a course of action.
George explained that once the faculty’s report is finalized, it will be turned over to SOARB. From there, they will review it and decide if any further action will be required on their end.
Dean of Education Rebecca Luce-Kapler told The Journal via email that, “[The Faculty of Education] will not speak publicly about specific students or the individual outcomes of our student conduct process.”
“All Orientation Leaders are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with their training, Orientation policies and procedures… The university will not tolerate any behaviour that contravenes these policies,” Luce-Kapler wrote.
Jamieson also added that despite this incident, Orientation Week as a whole ran smoothly this year and that all faculty orientation weeks, “met the objectives of orientation week, to help first year students acclimatize and orient themselves to the community.”
“Obviously this is not a cultural issue that threatens the safety and security of all first year students. This is an isolated incident,” Jamieson said.
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