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Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2007

Meiji cheer group hazed juniors

One student committed suicide after beatings, humiliation


Staff writer

Meiji University may disband its male-only cheer squad in the wake of reported hazing of junior members, including one who subsequently committed suicide, the school's public relations section said Tuesday.

The Tokyo-based university has not confirmed the reported existence of video footage showing the bullying, but one group member has admitted to a university investigative committee that such images were taken by another member, according to Hisashi Nakaoka, a PR official at Meiji.

The member said the video showed senior members stripping the pants from junior members, including a 21-year-old who committed suicide in July, according to Nakaoka.

The university launched an investigation after the suicide. The name of the student who killed himself is being withheld.

The committee had previously concluded no bullying had taken place.

But after interviewing members of the cheer squad, it withdrew the previous conclusion and admitted there were "violent acts and other acts that are unacceptable to social conventions."

Specifically, some senior members struck junior members with their fists, forced them to eat weeds and chased them by brandishing fireworks, Nakaoka said.

"The university considers that it cannot escape being criticized for failing to supervise (group members). We deeply apologize to the (next of kin) and other related parties," the university said in a written statement.

"The university believes the cheer squad has problems. . . . We'd like to take tough measures, including possibly disbanding the group," the statement read.



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