University of Central Arkansas officials are investigating a possible hazing of a student who was duct-taped to a pole on campus during 34-degree weather last week.
UCA police found Cassandra Purtle, 20, bound to a metal light pole near Estes Stadium at about 12:38 a.m. Friday, March 22.
Despite rain and sleet, Purtle was wearing "only a light men’s type white undershirt and what appeared to be black jogging pants," according to the police incident report.
A group of people who said they were on the cheerleading team surrounded her. The report lists Jamie Frey, Raymond Anthony McLeod, Shalynn Mills, Lauren Goines, Dennis DePriest and Natoya McLeod as being on scene.
The students released Purtle without incident, according to the report. The students said they were doing "an activity similar to a scavenger hunt," according to the release.
The activity part of team building exercises and not hazing, said Meagan Dyson, spirit coordinator.
Police decided the "activity" was "suspicious," detained the students and contacted the team’s sponsor. Purtle did not want to "pursue this criminally," police spokesman Arch Jones said. All the students were released but one. Frey was arrested because he had a misdemeanor warrant for default of time payment, according Chief Deputy Matt Rice with the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office.
After the victim didn’t want to pursue anything criminally, police turned the case over to the Dean of Students for further review, Jones said.
The Athletics Department and Dean of Students Gary Roberts are looking into the case to determine whether the event is hazing or violates UCA policy, Roberts said. That process could take one to two weeks, he said.
If officials discover violations, individuals or the group could see "disciplinary action," Roberts said.
Dyson said the activity of taking one of the new students during team building had been happening for years, but won’t happen in the future. She said the students meant no harm but the way the activity has been perceived is negative.
"I think an activity that could be potentially perceived as hazing does not belong in our program," Dyson said.
(Staff writer Scarlet Sims can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1246. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)