Twelve students must move off the Fifth West floor of Ashton Hall following a disciplinary decision by Seattle Pacific University Residence Life on Oct. 27.
Additionally, university administration relieved the 5W Resident Adviser of his leadership position. The President of Ashton Hall Council is one of the twelve students involved, and he has also been relieved of his leadership position.
“As a floor, more than angry I think we all feel hurt and disrespected,” one student on 5W said in an interview Wednesday.
Three students spoke on the condition of anonymity out to fear that revealing their identities would inhibit their appeal to the disciplinary decision.
The 11 sophomores and the floor’s RA will not be permitted to live in any university housing until spring quarter when they are invited to re-apply, the students said.
According to the students, the university found members of 5W participating in a tradition that allegedly violated lifestyle expectations.
Specifically, students said the university cited lifestyle expectation No. 8, which forbids “[a]ctivities that cause or threaten emotional, mental, or physical harm or suffering; that demean the dignity of any individual; or that interfere with any individual’s academic process.”
According to students on 5W, the floor returners met and voted unanimously to hold the tradition despite the cancellation and modification of traditions in other dorms this year.
As with most hall traditions, non-returners of 5W were unaware of the specific activities planned beforehand but given the opportunity to decline participation.
The three students interviewed chose not to comment on the specific details of the tradition. It is unclear at this point precisely what happened at the 5W floor tradition.
The students said returners felt confident that continuing a long-standing tradition would not result in any penalties.
“None of us thought [the tradition] was breaking lifestyle expectations at all,” a second student said.
According to the students, the 12 5W residents involved had individual hearings following the incident and received a verdict of the hearing in an email.
“I think they gave us time but I don’t think they listened to us,” a third student said.
Chuck Strawn, dean of students for community life, said in an interview that while he values campus-wide traditions, he acknowledges their tendency to escalate.
“Hazing activities are still hazing regardless of participation,” Strawn said. “That makes it challenging… people may look like they are having fun but there also may be peer pressure involved.”
According to Strawn, SPU’s lifestyle expectations provide clarity and a good starting point for dialogue surrounding hazing.
On behalf of 5W Ashton, the three students say Residence Life’s decision has created more animosity among the student body.
“This has the potential to ruin our housing experience, college experience, affect our finances and thereby the rest of our lives,” one student said.
This story is developing and will be updated further as details become available.