Greek life addresses problems associated with hazing

Laura Monaco

Members of the University’s 19 fraternities and sororities, in coordination with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, united to spread awareness about a contentious and controversial topic often linked to college campuses: hazing.

Hazing Awareness Week, sponsored by Alpha Delta Pi, commenced with risk management training for the presidents, social chairs and chapter risk managers of each respective fraternity and sorority, as well as a meeting of the Greek Judicial Board.

“Through these training sessions, we try to make the risk managers of each chapter aware of the expectations we have for our chapters, particularly regarding our policy on hazing,” said Assistant Director of Student Development for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life Phil O’Neill.

To inform the entire student body of Hazing Awareness Week, members of Alpha Delta Pi distributed Coke-Zero at the Oreo.

“We chose to hand out Coke-Zero at the Oreo because of the University’s zero-tolerance policy regarding hazing,” said junior Alpha Delta Pi delegate Chelsea Carroll. “We also included a fact about hazing on each of the cans to spread awareness.”

On Tuesday night, a well-known voice in the hazing debate, Hank Nuwer, spoke to the new and existing fraternity and sorority members. Faculty and administration were also invited to attend the seminar. According to O’Neill, this was the first time that the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life programmed Hazing Awareness Week and invited a nationally recognized speaker on the topic to campus.

“In recent years, hazing has become an issue, to some extent, on campus,” said O’Neill. “We have inherently good groups of students in our chapters that try to live up to the University’s mission. But sometimes there are instances, such as the incident last semester at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, that remind us to continue to raise awareness about hazing ahead of time to prevent situations like that.”

Sadly, hazing has the potential to permanently derail the college experience of students who engage in it. Recently, Jackson State University in Mississippi suspended 20 marching band members due to reports of hazing, debunking the myth that hazing is limited to Greek Life.

Ironically, Kansas State University identified a student with severe alcohol poisoning as a victim of a fraternity hazing during national Hazing Awareness Week. Luckily, the student did not sustain serious injury.

Perhaps the most tragic instance regarding hazing occurred last November at the University of Delaware, when freshman Brett Griffin died of an alcohol overdose at a Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity, bringing media attention to this clandestine practice.

“Nobody wants to talk about hazing or admit to it,” Carroll said. “Most people who have been hazed often do not think that they have been hazed. Hazing is supposed to be a ‘bonding’ experience, and no one wants to go against the group, so they don’t share their experience.”

For this reason, hazing is almost always associated with Greek life on college campuses, although it also occurs in high schools, and other social organizations, such as athletics.

“Whether it is a minor incident, or a large-scale serious occurrence, hearing about hazing on your own campus develops a terrible stigma for the entire Greek community,” said senior Frank DiPascali, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon. “Although most organizations do not haze, one small episode can ruin the positive image of a great group of people.”

In order to prevent future instances of hazing at the University, all new fraternity and sorority members sign a no hazing contract, in which they pledge to not to allow themselves to be hazed. Fraternity and sorority new member educators also must sign a contract to prevent hazing as well as attend an orientation in which they are informed of the consequences of hazing.

“In light of the events of last semester, all chapters accepting new members must submit a calendar and plan of action on the new member process,” O’Neill said. “The presentation includes the goals of the chapter, the events they will host, their expectations and their itinerary of how they will deal with hazing. We have to be proactive in our approach to hazing.”

To many in the University’s Greek community, hazing must be eradicated as a means to strengthen an organization.

“We need to start thinking about new ways to bond members,” Carroll said. “The time for hazing is long gone. Something is seriously wrong if hazing is the only way to bond a group of individuals.”