The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s track team has been banned from the first three meets of the season, following an investigation into alleged hazing activities the night of Feb. 3, including a naked scavenger hunt and an alleged assault on a Pomona College student.
CMS athletic director Terrance Tumey delivered the news in an email to Claremont McKenna College and Harvey Mudd College students Monday. Tumey also announced that some members of the women’s team, who allegedly participated in separate hazing incidents, are barred from participating in one meet.
Both the men’s and women’s teams were suspended Feb. 5 while the athletic department investigated the incident. The women’s team suspension was lifted Feb. 8, while the men’s suspension remained in place until Monday.
Even though the suspensions have been lifted, members of the teams may also have violated conduct policies at CMC, HMC, and Scripps, which are each investigating the situation. The students’ actions “may result in disciplinary and educational sanctions for individuals as warranted” from their home schools, Tumey wrote.
The Claremont Police Department is also still investigating the incident.
The men and some women will miss the Pomona-Pitzer All Comers meet Feb. 17, and the men will also be barred from CMS’ own Rossi Relays Feb. 24 and the SCIAC multi-dual meet March 3. The men’s season will resume March 10 at the Occidental Distance and Sprint Carnival.
The incidents under investigation “involved groups of students engaging in actions across the campuses such as entering locked buildings and pools after hours, public indecency, theft, and an alleged physical altercation, involving both Campus Safety and the Claremont Police Department,” HMC Dean of Students Jon Jacobsen wrote in an email to HMC students.
These incidents were part of “scavenger hunt” initiation events, sources familiar with the CMS track teams said. For the men’s team, these activities allegedly involved entering Pomona’s Rains Center while naked and stealing a photo, as well as allegedly assaulting a student employee who attempted to stop them. The student declined to comment.
Dylan Elliott PO ’21 said he and his roommate were walking toward Frary Dining Hall Feb. 3 when they saw a group of naked men on Sixth Street, which is next to Rains, with a photo in hand. They were accompanied by fully-clothed older-looking students who seemed to be supervising them, he said.
When Elliott noticed one of the men holding the photo, he said he yelled “Hey, where did you get that?” but the group of students ran away.
Elliott said he recognized the photo as one that usually hangs on the wall at Rains, so he went inside to see what had happened. There, he said he saw the on-duty Rains monitor being interviewed by Campus Safety.
CPD police logs of the incident said “one of the subjects attacked another student … and held [him] down when he attempted to stop them” from stealing the photo.
A Campus Safety officer took Elliott’s statement, he said, and showed him stills of security footage of naked men at CMC’s Cube from earlier that night to confirm if it was the same group of men.
Elliott said he thought it was, and a Snapchat video obtained by TSL shows the presence of naked men in the Cube. This coincides with a Campus Safety report of indecent exposure near the Kravis Center at 8:32 p.m.
Another Snapchat video obtained by TSL shows multiple shirtless CMS athletes running onstage at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella at Bridges Auditorium the same night. The incident is also believed to be part of the men’s initiation scavenger hunt, according to reports from multiple sources familiar with the team.
The CMS women engaged in similar initiation events, according to a source familiar with the women’s team, including running naked in dorms at each of the 5Cs, taking body shots off of random people, and skinny dipping in fountains.
The CMS Hazing Policy prohibits “any act associated with being initiated into [a CMS team]” that would have the effect of “humiliating, intimidating or demeaning the individual or endangering the mental or physical health of the individual.”
The policy gives examples of hazing, including “forcing a student into a violation of the law or College policy such as indecent exposure, theft, or trespassing.”
Although members of the track team have been tight-lipped about the suspension, some alumni confirmed the tradition of an initiation scavenger hunt.
The hunt is a “completely voluntary” annual tradition at the beginning of the season, according to Garrett Ryan CM ’17, a CMS track alumnus.
“We’ve had interactions with Campus Security before [during the scavenger hunt],” Ryan said, adding that the team has never before faced any serious consequences from the authorities.
Ryan was visiting Claremont Feb. 3 and met up with his former teammates late in the night after the incident at Rains, he said.
The team did not know about the suspension until the coming week, but Ryan said that “a majority” of his former teammates thought their stunt in Rains had gone too far.
“It is supposed to be a night of fun, as long as you’re not harming anybody else,” he said.
However, Ryan, along with several other CMS track alumni, found it hard to believe that their former teammates would physically assault someone.
“That night, they told me the whole story, and at no point did they mention [the assault],” he said. “None of them seem like the type to assault someone else.”
Another CMS men’s track alumnus who wished to remain anonymous said he never participated in initiation himself but that it was “pretty highly encouraged” and “definitely more encouraged for freshmen.”
“Most of the time [initiation] doesn’t really cause any issues, but people are aware that it is happening. I don’t think it is any secret that it goes on and no one has ever really complained,” the alumnus said.