In the wake of revelations that Southwest High School baseball players hazed several teammates on a trip to Florida this past March, the school's athletics director says Southwest is taking the issue seriously and has taken steps to prevent another incident.
According to reports of a lawsuit filed this past May, in four seperate incidents, students held teammates down and dangled their testicles in the pinned teammate's faces, a hazing ritual known as "teabagging." Ryan Lamberty, the school's athletics director, said March's incidents were the first set of hazing incidents he had heard of in the five years he had worked in the district.
"I believe it's an isolated incident," Lamberty said. "We've already sat down with some of the captains and said 'this is important.'"
The lawsuit was filed by parents of one junior who the district ordered transfered out of Southwest as punishment for participating. In the lawsuit, the boy's parents alleged their son was only an accidental accomplice to one of the four incidents.
A Minneapolis Public Schools spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit, the allegations and the number of past hazing incidents in Minneapolis schools, saying she was concerned about violating students' privacy. Southwest Principal Bill Smith couldn't be reached for comment, but Lamberty said he and his coaches were planning to sit down with every upperclassman on a sports team to emphasize the need to prevent hazing incidents. Prior to this year, he said, coaches had mentioned hazing in their broad overview of student conduct policies.
"We already do something called 'Link Crew,'" Lamberty said. "It's a way to help new students at school feel welcome and help older students in the building take ownership of making these new students feel welcome."
This spring, Lamberty said, the school also purchased an anti-hazing module for Link Crew, one of the school's anti-bullying curricula, following the incident and planned to roll it out this fall.