Campus service hazing results in student hospitalizations & vandalism

AMS executive transparent about responsibility following TAPS social gone wrong

Social cited by the AMS as hazing for TAPS employees prompted binge-drinking among other concerns.
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Journal File Photo

Sitting in his office in the AMS bunker on Wednesday morning, Vice President (Operations) Dave Walker held a list in his hands. “I mean, if we’re going to address the elephant in the room, this was disgusting, and it was hazing,” he said.

Walker’s comment comes hard on the heels of a workplace social, organized by the AMS Pub Services known on-campus as TAPS. On the night of Aug. 30, a list of tasks was provided by the managerial staff to freshly-trained student employees, to complete in one hour. 

 The result was that two students  were hospitalized, both for excessive alcohol and one also sustaining injuries to his arm after smashing through an establishment window. As yet, according to the AMS, the establishment owner hasn’t pressed charges, but to Walker, the student in question wasn’t to blame. 

“If you fundamentally look at the balance of power that was displayed there, this isn’t a responsibility or blame that should be put on any staff, given that list and what was produced,” Walker said. In his mind, the responsibility for the night largely fell back on him. 

“It’s on me to proactively seek these things out,” he said. The TAPS service falls under his portfolio as VP Operations. “We [the AMS executive team] knew these problems persisted. We thought we were doing enough.”

Instructions prompted binge-drinking, pole-stripping at clubs downtown, “chubby bunny” games known to prompt choking, and public nudity.

 Walker is firm on his belief that the tasks themselves were unacceptable, regardless of the unfortunate outcome. “Half of them because of their interpretations, and half because they’re outright subjective and for lack of a better word disgusting,” he said. “There’s no excuse for why that list came up, or why it was created.”

Though Walker took full responsibility, he was only made aware of the list’s existence the following morning, when he was greeted at his office by the TAPS management and director.

After a lengthy conversation about what they were going to do, the immediate consequence was the next TAPS social being switched to a dry movie night in the Underground venue on campus.

“We actually cancelled the socials moving forward for the year, in that all of them have to be put through me if it’s going to be a TAPS event,” he said. 

A meeting is set to be held by Walker with all TAPS employees as well as the managerial staff.

“We’re going to be the people that end this pervasive culture that’s existed in some instances within the entire AMS, and in TAPS. This drinking culture, and this culture of having fun versus being responsible or respectful. That’s something that we’re working on,” he said.

While Walker conceded that he would be “a total hypocrite” to tell university students not to drink, his reaction was rooted in the pressure of a supervisor instructing often younger staff members to drink in a way that they may not have been comfortable with.

“In that position of meeting new people and trying to fit in, a lot of people are going to feel uncomfortable,” he said. Newer staff may have checked off items just to feel a part of the team.

He cited long-time barriers that existed in certain AMS services, which often dictated who would and wouldn’t apply to work for them. “It’s these examples that perpetuate that problem,” he said.

“This is what this campus, unfortunately, has been plagued with a lot. [Fixing] it certainly begins with Tyler, Carolyn and I. And it should have started a while ago.”

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