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Towson University Shortens Punishment For Cheerleading Team Accused Of Hazing

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ)—Towson University lightens the punishment for cheerleaders after hazing allegations surface. The team was initially suspended for the entire school year.

Christie Ileto has more on the modified punishment handed down.

Social probation for the fall semester--that's the modified punishment being handed down to Towson's cheerleading squad Tuesday after allegations of hazing surfaced last month.

"They are not allowed to appear as Towson cheerleaders either on or off campus through the fall semester," said Deb Moriarty, vice president of student affairs.

That means no cheering at games, but they can practice.

The squad must complete 650 hours of community service by January and special education sessions.

After originally suspending the team for the whole year, the administration says an appeals committee lessened the team's punishment.

"They felt like the mitigating factor that changed it from suspension to social probation, they felt the team hadn't received adequate training on our hazing policy," Moriarty said.

The university will not say what the hazing involved only that it was reported last month and won't be tolerated.

The student handbook defines hazing as any action to produce mental, physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule.

"I guess it's just a warning, a slap on the wrist," said Benjamin Ady, student.

"It's not sending a good message. Everybody can do it and think they can get away with it," said Darby Adams, student.

Some students say the new punishment is setting a bad example.

"Because if one team is subjected to hazing people, and then probation gets cut back, then other sports can be like 'I can haze freshman too,'" said Amber Hall, student.

But the administration says the team didn't get off easy, and this cautionary tale shows students that hazing is not tolerated.

The cheerleading team can make a final appeal to the university's president before Sept. 17.

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