PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Brown University said it has launched an investigation into alleged hazing on the men's varsity swimming and diving team at the Ivy League school, after a probe by its student newspaper.
The Brown Daily Herald reported that it reviewed text messages, emails, photos and recordings of conversations among team members, who described Oct. 7 as a night of "initiation" or "hazing," with heavy drinking, vandalism and other activities.
The newspaper found that multiple first-year members of the team vomited that night and team members vandalized a statue of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius seated atop a horse by climbing on it and smashing Smirnoff Ice vodka bottles against it. A swimming and diving captain described it on an audio recording as a tradition of "smashing the 'Ices' against the statues."
A photo viewed by the newspaper's staff showed new team members stripped down to underwear or swim suits and photographed in front of the university's Van Wickle Gates on campus. Another photo showed one team member with the name "Oedipus" written on his bare back, along with the drawing of a penis. Oedipus is a mythological king who killed his father and married his mother.
Brown spokesman Brian Clark said in a written statement that the university received a media inquiry about alleged hazing Nov. 14, which included few details. He said the university's Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards began looking into it, and launched an investigation Nov. 29.
As of Wednesday, he said, no student had yet expressed concerns directly to Brown.
"The university remains deeply troubled by the allegations and continues to actively investigate. Any activity proven to constitute hazing is a violation of both Brown's Code of Student Conduct and Rhode Island state law," Clark said.
Students found responsible for violating the code are subject to university sanctions, he said.
At team meetings in October and November, captains were captured on audio recordings telling team members to deny any hazing if they were asked about it, and to deny even meeting to talk about the investigation.
"There's things that are out there that could be damaging, it's just about how we spin it right now," one captain was recorded saying in a Nov. 14 meeting.
Student athletes must commit in writing to following Brown's hazing policy, and attend an NCAA compliance meeting with their team, he said. Athletes who violate Ivy League or NCAA regulations are subject to sanctions, Clark added.