Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Reports of hazing continue at teachers college where student died

A Durango teachers college is facing accusations that hazing is still occurring on its grounds four years after a 19-year-old student died due to injuries he sustained during degrading initiation rituals.

The college at the center of the scandal is the J. Guadalupe Aguilera Rural Normal School in the municipality of Canatlán, located north of Durango city.

In August 2018, Ronaldo Mujica Nevárez died of head injuries he sustained during hazing at the school. Now, several new students have reported being forced to participate in hazing rituals at the same college.

One student from the municipality of Guadalupe Victoria reported that his human rights were violated during the school’s recent induction week. During a period of two days, he said he was only allowed to eat once and that older students stripped him in the morning and forced him to dance in the nude. The student’s mother said that her son was also forced to go without sleep for three consecutive nights.

In 2018, 10-year-old Ronaldo Mujica Nevárez died of head injuries after being hazed.
In 2018, 19-year-old Ronaldo Mujica Nevárez died of head injuries after being hazed at the same teachers college.

According to the mayor-elect of Guadalupe Victoria, the young man managed to call his mother and arranged for her to pick him up. “He lied, saying that his grandfather had cancer, so they would allow him to leave the institution. His mom found him dehydrated and low in glucose. She took him to a hospital to be stabilized,” David Ramos Zepeda, a former state deputy, told the newspaper El Sol de Durango.

He asserted that the school hasn’t learned from the recommendations issued after the death of Mujica, who died in a Canatlán hospital.

The father of a new student from Gómez Palacio told El Sol that his son was also a hazing victim. According to a report by that newspaper, the student and six others left the teacher’s college on Monday after being subjected to brutal treatment during their induction. The young men were reportedly stripped of their belongings, verbally abused and forced to carry out strenuous physical work under a blazing sun. More extreme physical activity followed at night before older students sent the newbies to sleep on the floor.

The abusive seniors consumed alcohol and drugs as they subjected the new arrivals to demeaning hazing rites, according to the student from Gómez Palacio.

Despite the testimony of the new students, the director of the school denied that hazing occurs at the college she leads. Academic, sporting and cultural activities are the focus of the school’s induction week, Alma Guadalupe Salazar Castañeda said.

She acknowledged that new students do cleaning and maintenance work at the school and elsewhere in the municipality, but rejected claims that they were mistreated. They carry out such work to strengthen their character and make a contribution to society, Salazar said.

Asked by El Sol about the case involving the Guadalupe Victoria student, the college director asserted it was false that students are deprived of food, explaining that they can access cooked meals in a kitchen area.

In a message directed to parents, Salazar said: “Rest assured that I’m your eyes [in the school] and I’m attentive [to what’s happening]. I’m also a mother, … I invite you [to come to the school] and verify the conditions.”

Miguel Estrada, a state education official with responsibility for Durango’s teacher-training colleges, also asserted that hazing no longer takes place at the school in Canatlán. He bluntly told a press conference that the inappropriate and violent treatment of new students has been eradicated.

However, Estrada later conceded that “we don’t know exactly what happened” during the recent induction week at the college. “We’re waiting for a detailed report from the institution’s director,” he said.

With reports from El Sol de Durango

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