Men's Rugby club sport suspended until spring 2018
12:30 p.m., Sept. 30, 2013--Men's Rugby, a club sport team at the University of Delaware, was notified Sept. 18 by the Office of Student Conduct of suspension of its team status and privileges through spring semester 2018 after an investigation into its connection with the Sept. 9 incident in Newark. The club filed an appeal, and the Appellate Board upheld the decision to suspend the club's team status.
During the suspension period, the club may not practice as a team in any location, on or off campus; recruit members; engage in rugby-related athletic or social functions; use University buildings, facilities, property and equipment; use University resources, services or funds; participate or attempt to participate as an organization in any University event; or cosponsor or participate as an organization in another registered/recognized organization's activities. Students may petition the Office of Student Conduct annually to have the suspension reconsidered.
Tea with the provost
The University of Delaware has an established protocol in its Office of Student Conduct for dealing with individuals and student organizations who violate the Code of Conduct and engage in behaviors that are detrimental to themselves or the community.
The code gives the Office of Student Conduct jurisdiction to impose discipline on student organizations and it has been invoked in the past.
In the course of its investigation, the Office of Student Conduct determined that the events of Sept. 9 began at a party hosted at 402 South College Ave., which is also known as the Rugby House. That party included acts that endangered safety and were disruptive to the community, and alcohol was served during a period when alcohol may not be served at any club function. The office also found that the event was credited as a Rugby Club party by numerous team members on social media and that members acted insufficiently to prevent the violations of the Code of Conduct.
Disciplinary charges against the club and individual students were heard by an experienced hearing officer. The club appealed that officer’s written findings to a three-member Appeals Board consisting of student, faculty and staff representatives. Both the original hearing officer and the Appellate Board independently found sufficient and overwhelming evidence that the rugby team as a collective was responsible. The decision of the Office of Student Conduct is appropriate and commensurate with the gravity of the infraction, and the sanctions are consistent with the University's past practice.
In response to the Sept. 9 event, University of Delaware President Patrick Harker and Provost Domenico Grasso sent a letter to all UD students telling them, "Make no mistakethis behavior will not be tolerated at the University of Delaware," and they pledged to hold accountable those responsible for the incident.
Organizing as a club sport is a privilege for University students, bringing with it responsibilities and expectations for general behavior. According to University policy, "individuals or clubs that violate the University Student Code of Conduct will be directed to the Office of Student Conduct for discipline. If any individual or club is found 'responsible' for misconduct by the Office of Student Conduct, that individual and/or group may be suspended from all club sport activity."
In addition, the Student Guide to Policies clearly states that "any violation of this Code of Conduct by one or more members of a student organization may constitute a violation by the organization itself."
On Aug. 26, alcohol and behavioral policies were reviewed and verbally reinforced during a leadership workshop for all club sports officers. Men’s Rugby was represented at that meeting.
Details of the Student Conduct System are available online at http://www.udel.edu/stuguide/13-14/conduct.html#undergrad
The Policies and Procedures manual for club sports may be found online at http://www.bluehens.com/fls/29100/pdf/Policy_Manual_Club_Sports_12_13.pdf?DB_OEM_ID=29100