Colleges learning a tough lesson

June 1, 2006

Luke Daquino, a former University at Albany lacrosse player, said he never understood why today’s students bare their souls on the Internet.

The growing popularity of Web sites such as http://www.myspace.com, http://www.facebook.com and http://www.webshots.com allow the college crowd to share personal information and photographs all over the country.

"None of that stuff for me," said Daquino, who graduated last year. "You put way too much stuff on there, you get yourself in trouble. Especially in college, people put pictures of everything that goes on, and they go everywhere."

Some colleges are finding that out the hard way.

Photos of alleged hazing have popped up all over the Internet, leading Northwestern to suspend its women’s soccer team and embarrassing a host of other schools. Locally, UAlbany has launched an investigation into its women’s lacrosse team, and Union has done the same with its women’s soccer team.

As president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Greg Lukianoff defends the free speech rights of students. But Lukianoff cautions that people must exercise common sense.

"If they’re posting illegal activity (on the Internet), that’s poor judgment on their part," he said. "Something students should be aware of in a lot of cases is that they’re putting it out there to the entire world."

Loyola (Ill.) University athletic director John Planek in December forbade his athletes from posting on http://www.facebook.com.

Planek said violators face dismissal from their team and a loss of scholarship.

"I would encourage other universities and colleges to engage in the conversation with their coaches and students," Planek said. "I think it’s an easier sell now."

Colleen McGlone, an assistant professor of sports management at Coastal Carolina, said it doesn’t surprise her that athletes might be brazen enough to post hazing photographs on the Internet.

That’s because many don’t realize it’s hazing, she said.

"We say hazing, but what the athletes hear is initiation," said McGlone, who did a 2004 study of hazing among female student-athletes at Division I schools. "If you tell an athlete it’s an initiation, they’re going to be more proud they survived the initiation."

McGlone said 49.4 percent of female athletes in her study reported being hazed, a figure that surprised some people.

"The image is that boys will be boys, but women don’t do that kind of thing," she said.

Schools: State University of New York – Albany Northwestern University