University confirms March TEMS hazing, alumni work to bring group back


TEMS was charged with hazing and failure to comply in Spring of 2015. Following more recent allegations, New Orleans EMS serves as Tulane’s first responders. 

Emma Discher, Senior Staff Reporter

In the three weeks that Tulane Emergency Medical Services has been discontinued, the university administration has confirmed the reasons for the original deferred suspension that occurred on March 12. TEMS alumni have begun looking to the future of the organization.

The Division of Student Affairs will not comment any information concerning TEMS’ current suspension because the investigation is ongoing and the organization has not yet been formally charged. 

“The charges for which TEMS was found responsible were hazing and failure to comply,” Director of Student Conduct Vanessa Rodriguez said. “As a result, the organization was placed on deferred suspension.”

Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, universities do not release individual’s conduct records. Organizational conduct records are not covered by FERPA.

The 2014-15 Code of Student Conduct defines hazing as follows: 

“Hazing includes, but is not limited to, acts of servitude and/or behavior that humiliates, degrades, embarrasses, harasses or ridicules an individual, or otherwise is harmful or potentially harmful to an individual’s physical, emotional, or psychological well-being, as an actual or apparent condition for initial or continued affiliation with any group.” 

In layman’s terms, an organization cannot force anyone into unreasonably compromising circumstance as a requirement for membership in their organization.  

No information has been released concerning of the type of hazing that occurred in TEMS, only that hazing did take place. 

The Code of Student Conduct also provides the following definition of failure to comply:

“Failure to comply with the directions of University officials, including campus police officers, acting in the performance of their duties.” 

No specific information has been released about how exactly TEMS failed to comply, only that the organization failed to follow university directions in some way. 

After TEMS was found guilty of hazing and failure to comply, the administration placed the group on deferred suspension from March 12, 2015 until March 1, 2016. TEMS also had to comply with changes in its procedures with the suspension including the oversight of full-time professional emergency medical technician Heather Scianneaux, changes in hiring and election procedures, and generally more administration advising.

“This year was a new process for us in terms of the selection process,” TEMS Medical Director Daniel Garrett said. “So I was much more involved this year than the previous medical director or my previous time with the organization. … They asked us to review the selection process … and review the executive board structure. So we did that throughout the summer. We revamped those three processes and we were starting to get involved with the beginning phases of a new election cycle for the members in terms of electing new executive board members.”

All members of the interim executive board either declined to comment or could not be reached for comment.

The future of TEMS remains unclear as Student Affairs administrators investigate the recent alleged student code of conduct violations. Within the Tulane community, there is still a demand for TEMS.

“I think suspending TEMS will do more harm than good,” sophomore Mollie Kaufman said. “I feel like a lot of students are now afraid to call the ambulance if something does happen, because of cost, and they’re not sure if there are repercussions … no one knows what’s going to happen if you call an ambulance. It just sounds a lot more severe.”

Many TEMS alumni have given their support to TEMS during the discontinuation. Alumnus Heather Hilliard is organizing a group to work with Student Affairs on the future of the organization.

“A lot of the TEMS alumni have been in contact with the university to say [they] care deeply about this organization that [they] helped to create,” Vice President of Student Affairs J. Davidson “Dusty” Porter said. “When [they] were in [TEMS] it led to great professional development experiences that helped [them] become successful professionals in medical, business and law. This is a great sign.”

Hilliard said she was pleased that others have recognized the value of TEMS.

“The TEMS Alumni are committed to partner with the administration to ensure TEMS returns and continues serving as a completely student-run organization that provides outstanding emergency medical services to the Tulane University community, while teaching students how to successfully operate and manage what has become one of the top student-run emergency medical services on a college campus in the U.S.,” Hilliard said in an email statement.

Olivia Patsos graduated from Tulane as an undergraduate in May and served as a TEMS supervisor while at Tulane. She is now pursuing a masters degree in neuroscience at Tulane and hopes to go on to medical school.

“[TEMS] taught me so much in terms of hopefully what I’ll do in the future if I go to medical school or if I work [in] any sort of patient care,” Patsos said. “Through TEMS I was able to do a volunteer internship with New Orleans EMS, which ended up being my second tier service learning. That ended up being such a great experience for me seeing the city in a very different light. I really felt like I gave a lot to the community with that.” 

Porter seemed appreciative about the support of the alumni, but still wanted to balance the investigation and decision-making process with the serious concerns regarding any medical care group.

“We want to be thoughtful about where could we get to but also recognize that these are big issues,” Porter said. “Medical delivery of services can mean life or death.”

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