Hazing trial to COS

by Scott Anthony | 5/12/94 5:00am

Nathaniel Cook '94 and David Robb '94 will face the Committee on Standards in a public hearing today for allegedly violating the College's hazing policy.

The proceedings are scheduled for 2 p.m. in Parkhurst Hall.

Cook and Robb, both of whom are brothers in Beta Theta Pi fraternity, were arrested by Hanover Police on Feb. 25 and charged with violating New Hampshire's hazing law during Fall term.

Dean of the College Lee Pelton said in February that the College would investigate the matter after Hanover Police concluded its investigation.

Cook and Robb will be tried in Lebanon District Court on May 24. Both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Dartmouth's policy, which is consistent with the state law, calls hazing any act that "would be perceived by a reasonable person as likely to cause physical or psychological injury to any person" and is "a condition of initiation, admission into, continued membership in or association with any organization."

Rarity of open hearings

Pelton, who chairs the COS, said this is the first time since he has been at the College that a student has requested an open trial.

COS hearings are open to current Dartmouth students, faculty and staff unless a charged student requests a closed hearing or the chair decides to close it.

Undergraduate Judicial Affairs Officer Marcia Kelly said if one of the students decided to change his mind, Pelton might close the hearing. She added that there are "a very limited number of seats" in the room where the proceedings will be held.

Pelton said he "did not know" if he would decide to close the hearing if Cook or Robb request it today.

Kelly said because the case is being heard by the COS, it is of "suspension level." But she added "that doesn't mean they will be suspended. It's a possibility."

A statement issued by the Hanover Police in February alleged that Cook and Rob forced Oge Young '96, who was a Beta pledge Fall term, to drink unsafe levels of alcohol during a fraternity initiation process.

"The pledge became intoxicated to the point that his personal safety was put into jeopardy," Hanover Police said.

Hanover Police Detective Richard Paulson said in February that there was "a little more to" the hazing charge, but would not comment further. Neither Kelly nor Pelton would comment about the specific College charges against Cook and Robb.

The COS, the College's internal disciplinary body, is composed of three professors with three alternates; three student members with three alternates; and two administrators with two alternates.

Today's proceedings will be "fairly informal ... not like a courtroom," Kelly said. Cook and Robb will make statements and witnesses will be asked questions from COS members. Cook and Robb can ask questions to witnesses through Pelton.

After the proceedings, COS will deliberate in private to determine guilt and possible penalties. Kelly said COS makes recommendations to Pelton. Pelton almost always go along with the committee's recommendations, Kelly said.

Kelly said she was not sure if COS would finish proceedings and deliberations tonight.

COS decisions are typically reported only to the students who are charged with violating College policy.

Community interest

But the student handbook says: "The COS or the Dean hearing a case may choose to comment publicly, in writing or otherwise, regarding the decision reached if, in the judgment of the COS or that Dean the best interest of the community would be served by such a disclosure."

Pelton said last night that the COS only releases decisions in "very rare cases," but said "you could say this case has some community interest." He would not comment further about the case.

Robb would not comment about the case last night, but said he would discuss the decision with The Dartmouth. Cook declined to comment.

Hazing is a Class B misdemeanor and is punishable by fines of up to $1,200.

Robb's attorney, Mark Larsen from Lebanon, said he "did not recall" if he advised Robb to request an open hearing.

He said having an open hearing "allows for the public of Dartmouth College to see whether the decision is based on good information and whether the decision is fair and just."

Larsen said he "did not plan" to be at the hearing. He said the COS hearing is not related at all to Lebanon proceedings.

The College is required by law to report any instance of hazing to law enforcement agencies. When Pelton learned of the possible violation during Fall term, he said he notified Hanover Police.

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