SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) - Thirteen members of the Texas State Bobcat Marching Band have been suspended from the band and charged in connection to a hazing incident.
Academic punishment is pending after the incident three weeks ago when two students sitting inside a parked car on Aug. 31 raised the suspicion of Texas State Police. Officers asked them what they were doing and a key word was uttered.
“The word ‘initiation’ was used which typically triggers hazing,” said Dr. Joanne Smith, the Vice President of Student Affairs.
Through an investigation, the university discovered the two students in the car, one of them a minor, were asked to drink alcohol and do other lewd actions as part of an initiation.
More than a dozen members of the band’s drum line were implicated in the incident.
Austin Layne Baker, 24; Markus Santana Bonilla, 20; Daniel James Burow, 21; John Thomas Corbitt, 20; Nathan Patrick Donahue, 19; John Paul Edds-Galindo, 21; Caleb Rene Garza, 19; Cesar A Gonzalez, 22; Jeremy Robert Gonzalez, 20; Brian Scott Lindsey, 19; Luis Angel Pereira, 20; Miguel Angel Perez, 19; Luis Miguel Ramos, 19, were all charged with hazing.
Ramos was also charged with filing a false report after giving officers an inaccurate account of what happened.
The marching band and drum line directors and instructors were also interviewed, but the university does not believe they were involved in the hazing ritual.
Hazing is not only against university policy, but against Texas law.
“There are some things a university cannot tolerate and this is one of them,” Smith said.
All students are given a copy of the Texas State student handbook which contains strict guidelines about hazing.
In the handbook, hazing is defined as:
“Any intentional or reckless act, occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student, that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization whose members are or include students at an educational institution.”
Despite laws and mandates, students may still feel the pressure when it comes to fitting in on a college campus.
“Typically in these situations, students feel like they have to do something to belong to an organization,” Smith said. The most recent case of hazing at Texas State occurred last year in a campus fraternity organization.
Hanna Tayara is a student at Texas State and says evidence of hazing is not hard to find.
“(Students) will come back to the dorm hammered out of their mind because they were forced to drink alcohol,” she said. “They do it because they don’t want to get kicked out.”
The 13 drum line members have received an “interim suspension” while the criminal and university discipline processes play out. Meanwhile, academic punishment is pending.
Punishment could range from community service to suspension, but no decisions have been made yet by the university. A student judicial panel will review the case before making a decision.
By law, if an individual suspects or witnesses hazing, they have an obligation to report it to law enforcement.
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