On Monday, the Daily Nebraskan published a story by Chris Bowling (a really good student reporter) wondering whether the University of Nebraska's oldest honor society, Innocents, was getting away with hazing, after an uploading to YouTube of a tackling ceremony (above) by UNL Innocents. Such an incident last year resulted in the examination of an inductee for a possible concussion, which was ruled out.
The Innocents' induction certainly seems to fit the description of hazing, as defined in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Student Code of Conduct:
“Any activity by an organization or by a member of an organization in which a member, prospective member, pledge or associate of the organization is subjected to acts which cause harm or create the risk of harm to the physical or mental health of the member, prospective member, or pledge.”But there's a loophole, noted by Bowling:
Members have a defense against allegations of hazing. They say inductees don’t have to be tackled if they don’t want to.
The Innocents is upfront on its membership application that inductees may opt out of the ceremony. But Peter Bock, a former Innocents member and UNL alumnus, said this hardly ever happens because no one wants to be the person who disrupts the tradition.
|DN: An excerpt from the minutes for the Innocents Society meeting following the tackling incident.|
UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman pointed to article III, section eight of the code in an email defending the tradition...Below: Perlman in a
In accordance with the particular guideline, which outlines acceptable practices for initiation rituals, the Innocents’ tackling ceremony doesn’t require exertion, deprivation or embarrassment over a sustained period of time, Perlman said. Nor does it damage anyone’s reputation. [Says the star of a series of stupid YouTube videos, as seen at the bottom of this post—AKSARBENT]
But Perlman, an honorary Innocents member, didn’t explain how the tackling falls beyond the reach of the code of conduct’s definition of hazing. The definition is outlined in article III section seven: “any activity by which a person intentionally or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health or safety of an individual for the purpose of initiation into, admission into, affiliation with, or continued membership with any student organization.”
...Perlman said stretching the definition of hazing runs the risk of criminalizing innocuous behaviors.
“If tackling by Innocents as a condition of membership is prohibited, then what about (the) tackling drill to make the football team?” Perlman said.