National Hazing Week educates SFA students
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 08:10
Many people associate hazing with Greek Life thanks to movies and TV shows, often scaring new students away from the thought of joining a Greek organization. However, National Hazing Prevention Week and SFA have taken big steps to ensure that students don’t have to live in fear of being hazed.
“Prior to hazing prevention week we had our risk management training,” Jonathan Elder, coordinator of student organizations and Greek life, said. “We visited with over 800 students, faculty and staff in regards to hazing and talked about the law.”
National Hazing Prevention Week occurs at the end of September, and this year was the week of Sept. 24—28. During that week, organizations were encouraged to show how hazing is not promoted and help bring awareness to what qualifies as hazing.
“During the week we put fliers in the student organization mailboxes, making them aware within our fraternity and sorority community. We discussed what individual chapters can do, and I know a lot of the individual members on Twitter and Facebook put many pictures up.” Elder said.
SFA has a strict policy on hazing, with serious penalties such as the organization being fined or the school not recognizing the organization anymore. The school defines hazing as “any action taken or situation created, intentionally, whether on or off organization premises, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule.”
“During risk management training we provide a sample risk management policy and hazing is a part of that. In addition to that when they sign the attendance card, on the back of that is SFA’s hazing statement, so all of our student leaders and advisers sign that and are aware of that as well,” Elder said.
There haven’t been any hazing issues at SFA recently, but in 2007 there was an incident with the fraternity Sigma Tau Gamma and hazing rituals, causing the fraternity to be suspended for a certain amount of time.
“There was a hazing accusation and the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities and UPD did an investigation and found them guilty. We immediately removed their organization from campus,” Elder said. “We started working with their national office and with their alumni board and put together a plan to get them reinstated.”
With the help of the alumni and national members, the chapter went through and changed their image. The officers looked at each member to determine if they could stay in the organization, making sure that each member would be a good representative of the fraternity.
“Last spring they presented to the Dean and were granted reinstatement. And now, honestly, it looks like a completely different chapter than it did three years ago.” Elder said.
While things ended on a good note for Sigma Tau Gamma, there have been multiple stories in the past about students dying from alcohol poisoning and beatings that organizations have done. Hazing isn’t just limited to Greek Life; it can take place in any club or activity, including sports teams.
Not too long ago a story broke about a student in the Florida A&M University’s marching band that died because of hazing and now the band is suspended for the academic year. The student was a drum major who took place in a ritual where other students in the band beat him with drum sticks and other objects as he tried to exit a bus.
Stories like this don’t stop hazing though, and in the past year many stories have come to light regarding hazing, including cases from Florida A&M University, Texas Southern University, the University of Iowa and many other colleges, high schools and sports teams.
National Hazing Prevention Week is sponsored by the group HazingPrevention.org, a website devoted to end hazing all together. The site has ways to become involved and how to spot hazing. It also provides stories of people who have been hazed in the past and how it affects their lives today.
SFA is aware that hazing happens in colleges, and the fact that the University has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to hazing has been demonstrated in the past.
Any student is encouraged to report hazing to the SFA hotline, even if the hazing is happening to another student that they know. The tips are anonymous and appreciated, and the SFA hazing hotline is 936-468-8888.