Nestled on the plains of Kansas, the University of Kansas may not come to mind as an institution of higher education with a hazing tradition that has been described as “long and sordid.” However, that is the case. The school garnered this reputation because of fraternity hazing incidents, including situations that resulted in the long-term suspension of fraternities. With that said, fraternity hazing is not the only problem of this nature plaguing KU. A particularly disturbing hazing situation at the school involved the KU cheerleading program.
The KU cheerleading program ended a year-long suspension for its illicit hazing activities. Members of the cheerleading squad came forward to university officials and reported that team members had been subjected to physically and emotionally abusive hazing rituals. These included situations in which younger members of the cheerleading program were forced to participate in degrading situations in which they were ordered to strip and remain naked for extended periods of time.
Six women new to the cheerleading program were subjected to hazing. Older KU cheerleaders blindfolded newer members of the squad and placed them in cars. The younger cheerleaders were transported to an empty house. Upon arriving at the location, and remaining blindfolded, the young women were subjected to different types of physical and emotional abuse, including being forced into a washing machine. The hazing culminated in the newer squad members being forced to strip off their clothing. When that occurred, the women were forced to remain naked in front of other squad members, including male teammates, as well as alumni of the KU cheerleading program.
While naked, the women were taunted by other members of the cheerleading team, including being told that there were “ugly.” The verbal abuse while unclothed carried on for an extended period of time.
Another unsettling aspect of the University of Kansas cheerleader hazing ritual was the fact that the coaching staff was well-aware of what was occurring. In fact, the investigation ultimately undertaken by university administration revealed that the coaches enabled the brutal initiation rituals. This included the head cheer coach, Lindsay Marriott. The coaching staff were said to have attempted to normalize the hazing victimization.
The suspension of the cheerleading program as a result of hazing was the second time in recent years that the school administration took action against KU cheerleaders. In that incident, which occurred in during the 2016 elections, four cheerleaders wore team sweaters emblazoned with the letter K. Under the K was inscribed “KKK go Trump.” The cheerleaders posted photos of the team members garbed in this manner on Snapchat. The team faced a temporary suspension as a result of that conduct, including being prohibited from participating in cheerleading competitions.
The young women subjected to the “naked hazing” ritual were said to be traumatized by the experience. Indeed, one of the cheerleaders was so negatively impacted by the hazing ritual that she not only left KU but dropped out of school all together.
In addition to cheerleader hazing, the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity at the University of Kansas received a five-year complete suspension from campus. This suspension was handed down as the result of pervasive fraternity hazing that included pledges being forced to ingest illegal drugs. If the fraternity does return to campus, it will have to reorganize from the ground up.
If you’re the victim of fraternity hazing or some other type of hazing, the legal team at The Doan Law Firm stands ready to fight for your vital legal rights. You can schedule an initial consultation with a Doan Law Firm hazing lawyer by calling us at (800) 349-0000 any time of the day or night. We staff our hazing lawyer hotline 365 days a year, including all major holidays.
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