UWSP Dance Team, Cheerleaders, Mascots Suspended Pending Investigation
By Patrick Thornton
Stevens Point Journal
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point has suspended the student athletic entertainment organization pending the investigation into possible hazing and underage drinking violations during a dance team party last school year.
The University will schedule a hearing for the dance team before the policy and advisory committee for student organizations sometime in late September.
But until that board meets, the university's cheerleaders, dance team and mascot will not be allowed to participate in any University activities, including home football games, said Laura Ketchum-Ciftci, the director of University Centers.
The UWSP football team hosts the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Sept. 16.
Because the complaint was filed against the organization, and not the team, all athletic entertainment groups are affected by the action.
"The decision is up to the students on the advisory committee," Ketchum-Ciftci said. "And in a lot of ways the students are a lot harder on each other than the University would be. I can't tell you what's going to happen, but it is possible that all the members of the athletic entertainment organization could be affected."
Last spring photos surfaced on at least two Web sites of dance team members drinking at an off campus bar. The photos were posted in an online album entitled "UWSP Dance Team Initiation." Some of the photos were sexually suggestive and several of them showed underage students drinking.
"Right now the issue is hanging over all three programs because the only group we can deal with officially is the organization," said Bob Tomlinson, vice chancellor of student affairs . "But if the board determines there is reason for disciplinary action, that could be focused against just one program."
The university reviewed the photos and filed a complaint against the student organization. Members of the team were contacted over the summer, but not everyone involved could be reached, Tomlinson said.
The team's adviser, president and any other members will have a chance to testify at the hearing.
"We aren't going to let this go away," Tomlinson said.
The student panel is made up of roughly 13 members, Ketchum-Ciftci said. The University will spend time at the beginning of the school year training the students on the panel on the procedures for the hearing and the student code of conduct.
"The dance team is part of a student organization and they have a code of conduct to follow like every other organization," she said. "We have done numerous hearings like this before. The sanctions could run from a written warning to probation to possible suspension for up to a semester.
"The students are given rights, but there are also responsibilities."