Eleven SUNY Geneseo students to be charged in connection with off-campus drinking party
Posted at: 09/06/2012 5:10 PM
| Updated at: 09/06/2012 6:27 PM
By: Ray Levato | WHEC.com
News10NBC has learned that 11 SUNY Geneseo students are being charged in connection with an off-campus drinking party over the weekend. One freshman student required medical attention.
Authorities say most of those being charged are members of the Geneseo Women’s Volleyball Team and they’re pursuing charges that hazing was involved.
The Livingston County District Attorney says all eleven students will be issued appearance tickets soon. So no one is being carted off to jail and no one is going to have to worry about making bail in order to attend classes and no one is been suspended from college at this point. But authorities and the college are taking this very seriously.
The party was at an off-campus apartment on Court Street near the college. The district attorney says there may have been about 20 people there. Most of those charged are members of the Geneseo women's volleyball team. The D.A. is still looking into who supplied the alcohol which he said included beer and hard liquor. The freshman who became ill after the night of drinking was treated at a hospital.
Gregory McCaffrey, Livingston County District Attorney, said, “We met with the village police department today and we're recommending misdemeanor charges against numerous students including hazing in the first degree, and charges of unlawfully dealing with a child.”
Robert Bonfiglio, SUNY Geneseo VP Student and Campus Life, said, “Am I surprised that our students were drinking as underage people? I'm disappointed but I can say I'm not surprised. I can tell you hazing is a crime and that would raise this to another level.”
The college emphasizes the dangers of underage drinking to students and parents during freshman orientation. And last year, Geneseo upgraded its hazing policy to put more teeth into it.
The college says students can be suspended or dismissed from Geneseo for violating the college code of conduct, but not simply for underage drinking.
Bonfiglio said, “We don't exactly know what conduct that took place other than underage drinking. If you were to ask me is underage drinking an expellable offense, no it's not.”
The district attorney wants to hold those accountable for what they did but also treat this as an educational experience with the college.
McCaffrey said, “My office and the college and local law enforcement are not looking to ruin students' lives over alcohol consumption. We understand it's a way of life at most universities. But given the circumstances here, we think it warrants criminal charges at this point.”
The college vice president said alcohol use is more of a problem among fraternities and sororities and less of a problem among college athletic teams. Just three years ago, a Geneseo student died from alcohol poisoning while pledging a fraternity in a case that still reverberates around the small town.
The college cancelled practices and Tuesday’s game against Hilbert College. The team will not play in a scheduled tournament Saturday in Ithaca until an official decision is made about its future.