Student government leader ousted at SU
Posted: March 2, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — The president of the Shenandoah University Student Government Association was impeached and removed from office last week following allegations that the drama society in which he serves as treasurer was involved in hazing.
On Feb. 21, the 20 voting members of the SGA House of Delegates voted to impeach Nigel Huckle, a senior music theater major, in a three-quarters majority vote.
The delegates determined that Huckle and his fraternity Alpha Psi Omega, a national honorary dramatic society, were guilty of what the university defines as “subtle hazing.”
“Had we known it was hazing, we definitely wouldn’t have done it,” Huckle said. “It’s such a gray area because no one really knows the real definition.”
According to Huckle, the hazing event involved requiring pledges (prospective members) to memorize the history of the society and recite it verbatim in front of society members. When pledges made a mistake or forgot their lines, Huckle said, he would quiz them and demand to know why they had not memorized the history.
No alcohol, drugs or physical punishment was involved, and Huckle said no name-calling took place.
Huckle called the SGA’s decision “unfortunate” and said he wished the association had found another way to sanction him, but at the same time, he credited the group with doing its job.
According to school policy, subtle hazing includes: name-calling; requiring members to undergo drills or tests on meaningless information; depriving privileges to some members that are granted to others; socially isolating new members; requiring new members to perform duties not assigned to others; and making new members refer to other members with titles (such as “Mr.” and “Miss”) while they in turn are identified with demeaning terms.
“Hazing is bullying,” said Rhonda VanDyke Colby, vice president for student life, who said it involves any activity that is not mutual between two parties.
Colby praised the SGA for its student-led conversation about hazing and the drama society for accepting that its actions were a form of hazing.
Just two years ago, Huckle was instrumental in reshaping a poorly attended and weakened SGA by reworking its constitution and creating the House of Delegates. Under his leadership, the empowered SGA gained respect from staff members and students.
“I helped create the process, and I came down by the process,” he said.
The SGA Executive Council has six members and the House of Delegates has 20 voting members, who represent the student body through their student organizations.
As their punishment, Huckle and Alpha Psi Omega are required to create an anti-hazing statement, revamp their pledge process and create a video about hazing.
Huckle said he has received great support from students and faculty and staff members since his impeachment.
“At first, I was kind of down about it,” he said. “Now, it’s about focusing on my career and musical theater and taking the next step in my life.”
Vice President for Undergraduate Affairs Spencer King will be the interim president for the remainder of the term.
— Contact Rebecca Layne at firstname.lastname@example.org