February 11, 2019
Entering college as a freshman is an exciting (and intimidating) time. One of the best ways to make this transition easier is by getting involved in campus activities and creating lasting friendships. Many college students join sororities and fraternities with the hope of entering into a meaningful community and gaining new “brothers” and “sisters”. Unfortunately, there have been far too many stories over the past several years of conduct portraying the antithesis of this ideal. Hazing, in particular, has proven to be extremely detrimental and far too often fatal. This widespread epidemic has negatively affected thousands of individuals at colleges and universities nationwide, resulting in a powerful and necessary anti-hazing movement.
But, what exactly constitutes hazing? This word is more all-encompassing than most would think. There are three types of hazing: subtle, harassment, and violent.
1. Subtle hazing is when someone is a group who holds a higher status than someone else asserts that dominance through various tactics. This type of hazing is typically viewed as “harmless” in an attempt to be part of a group but still yields detrimental effects. Subtle hazing examples include depriving privileges to certain members, ostracizing a member due to a lower status, or giving members meaningless tasks.
2. Harassment hazing causes people to feel physical and/or emotional strain. Depending on the extent of harassment, it could also be considered violent hazing. Some examples include verbal abuse or threats, personal service to those with higher status, or sleep deprivation.
3. Violent hazing incites some sort of physical, emotional, or psychological harm to the victim. Examples of violent hazing include forced alcohol or drug consumption, expected illegal activity, or any sort of physical violence.
The Anti-Hazing Movement
The champions of this anti-hazing movement hope to flip the current script of Greek life at colleges and universities and attempt to create an environment that is supportive, fun, and most of all safe for all members. Creating this kind of change is a large endeavor, and support for this movement is happening on multiple levels. Organizations have been created, such as HazingPrevention.Org, to provide education to middle school, high school, and college students on the topic of hazing prevention. Educational programs such as this help empower individuals to take a stand, which is one of the primary ways that change will take place.
Many universities have been inciting rules and regulations on their fraternities and sororities to assure the safety of their students. Some of the widespread initiatives have been to prevent underage drinking and limit alcohol availability and consumption. This has actualized in varied ways at different universities, including banning hard alcohol at parties, pushing back the rush process until after freshman year, and enacting zero-tolerance policies for hazing.
While educational resources, rules, and regulations are all very important steps, the way that this narrative will begin to shift, and the primary hope of these initiatives, is to influence individuals to decide that enough is enough. It is when individuals decide to value the human dignity of those around them and let their actions reflect that value that change will come about. It is when those involved in Greek life take the title of “brother” and “sister” at seriously and treat each other as such that these actions will become more and more intolerable.
Hear their stories at the 2019 Annual Conference
Both Evelyn and Tim Piazza and Rae Ann and Stephen Gruver had sons in the Greek system who died as a result of hazing incidents. These two families made the decision to take action and created a coalition with the North American Interfraternity Conference and the National Panhellenic Conference that will take continued action against hazing.
Evelyn Piazza and Rae Ann Gruver will be speaking at this year’s Annual Conference for Greek Women Leaders in Atlanta. And, there’s still time to register; come join us February 21-23 and be inspired by the leadership and initiative of these amazing women.
Additional Anti-Hazing Resources: