Written by Veronica Dominicis
According to the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention, hazing is, “[A]ny activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.”
VSU has a zero-tolerance hazing policy for student organizations. This means that hazing in any form in not allowed among members of student organizations.
The National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention’s 2008 hazing study surveyed 11,482 undergraduate students from 53 colleges and universities. The survey found that 55 percent of students involved with on-campus student organizations experienced some form of hazing.
“When bringing new members into organizations of any kind, there is a misconception that they must ‘prove themselves’ in order to be considered worthy of membership,” Erin Sylvester, assistant director for Organizational Development, said. “This mentality is at the root of the definition of hazing.”
Although all organizations on campus and in the state of Georgia have laws and boundaries when it comes to hazing, fraternities and sororities have their own reasons to be against hazing.
Fraternal Information and Programming Group’s Risk Management manual states, “The senseless act of hazing not only creates liability risk for the chapter and the entire fraternity, but also hinders the development of the friendships that are the basis of brotherhood and sisterhood.”
Hazing, according to the aforementioned 2008 study, varies between getting tattoos or body piercings, being deprived of sleep and drinking large amounts of alcoholic beverages.
“It’s kind of like when people say hard work pays off,” Michelle Relyea, a sophomore English major said. “If you apply that thinking to hazing then it makes sense to test someone by putting them through a series of trials […] You want to make sure the person you’re admitting is capable of committing to something even when times are hard.”
“I’ve heard several cases of students dropping out of pledge classes due to hazing, so I do believe it is a detrimental problem here at VSU,” Paul Guzman, a senior psychology major, said.
Some incidents of hazing could be merely fodder for the rumor mill, however.
“I’ve never heard any negative things about hazing on our campus but then again I might just be ignorant of it,” Relyea said.
According to Sylvester, there are three types of hazing: subtle (which includes defamation or servitude), harassment (which includes public embarrassment) and violent (which includes physical and verbal abuse).
All incidents of hazing can be redirected to the Office of Student Conduct, a chapter or organization adviser or Student Life. The number for the national, toll-free, anti-hazing hotline is 1-888-NOT-HAZE.
“Hazing is not a Greek problem, it is a student problem,” Sylvester said. “However, the solution to ending hazing is a student solution. As members of a community, each student has the power to change behaviors, stop bad traditions and leave a positive legacy.”