Cornell University officials say the college’s oldest all-male a cappella group has been permanently dismissed from campus for hazing that required new members to put Icy Hot muscle cream on their genitals.
Formed in 1949, Cayuga’s Waiters was a subset of the Cornell University Glee Club and debuted at the Glee Club’s 1950 Junior Week concert. Although dressed in standard Glee Club attire, they distinguished themselves from other Glee Club members by draping towels over their arms—a visual pun on their ensemble’s name.
The 2012 hit movie Pitch Perfect was based on Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory, a non-fiction book written by Waiters’ alum Mickey Rapkin.
According to the Ivy League school’s website on hazing, Cayuga’s Waiters initially were suspended two weeks into the 2016 fall semester for hazing that also included requiring members to sit naked in ice baths.
The website reads:
Throughout the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters, new members and non-senior members of the organization were subjected to systematic hazing activities, including, but not limited to actions such as requiring new members to: sit naked in an ice bath in a bathroom during an organization trip; apply Icy Hot to their genitals; and, race up and down a street and then consume foods.
The website says during an investigation group members admitted the hazing had been going on for at least 10 years.
In March, a student at the University of Minnesota reported that he was raped by a fellow classmate when pledging the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.
Collegiate organizations like fraternities and a cappella groups have long been breeding grounds for brutal hazing rituals, toxic masculinity and non-consensual sex. The portrayal of this has begun to pop up more and more in films, shedding light on the important issue. The most recent example of this was Goat, a piercing depiction of frat life that played Sundance 2016 and hit theaters last fall.
Cornell’s president agreed with the decision to ban the a cappella group. He said, “I agree with the UHB that the hazing violations in this case are “extremely serious,” “dangerous and humiliating,” and evidence of the organization “failing to meet the most minimum standards that we hold as a university community for relationships among students.” This behavior has no place at Cornell, and I agree with the URB that dismissal of the organization is appropriate.”