Embarrassment, harassment, ridicule: Hazing has no place in students’ lives
By Lucy McElroy
Hazing. It can be hard to talk about, but the issue was front and center on campus last week.
“Hazing is any action or situation – with or without the consent of the participant – that intentionally or unintentionally endangers the mental, physical, or academic well-being of that particular person,” Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life and Leadership Programs, John Montemayor said.
National Hazing Prevention Week began Sept. 18. New Greek members and students considering joining a Greek organization were required to attend one of four anti-hazing seminars held in Tukey Theatre. Attendees learned about USC Upstate’s anti-hazing policy, South Carolina’s Hazing Law, and measures students can take against hazing.
“Failure to report hazing is just as bad as the individual actually doing the hazing,” Montemayor said. “One of the main things that is stressed to new Greek members and one of the main takeaways of the individuals considering joining is that consent is not a defense.”
Most often, we see media images of physical violence within Greek organizations, but hazing takes many forms and its psychological effects may go undetected.
HazingPrevention.org organizes National Hazing Prevention Week. Executive Director, Emily N. Pualwan further explained the organization’s hazing prevention efforts in an interview.
When did National Hazing Prevention Week begin and what spurred it?
Emily Pualwan: National Hazing Prevention Week began ten years ago, at the same time that our organization was being formed. Our founders felt that at that time, everybody was dealing with hazing after it happened and nobody was talking about prevention. The week was a way for the community to start the conversation around hazing and bring it out from in the shadows.
What is the importance of hazing awareness and prevention to college students?
EP: When we let things fester they often get worse – research has shown that hazing is an abusive practice that has a cycle that can worsen year to year. If we want to see a change, awareness and prevention are the first step. Ultimately the act of hazing on college campuses affects first the students. By educating them on what hazing is and what it looks like, we can empower them to stand up and prevent hazing and hopefully in the future eradicate it.
What steps can a university take to prevent hazing in their Greek organizations?
EP: Knowledge is power, and empowering. By providing education and knowledge of the harmful effects of hazing, it empowers those in a potentially detrimental situation. It is our belief that education is key to prevention and that hazing prevention is everyone’s responsibility, therefore it is imperative for Greek organizations to communicate and educate their members about hazing prevention.
What are some common forms of hazing seen on college campuses?
EP: The definition of hazing is any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule and risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate. Therefore, a few examples of hazing practices that occur are as follows:
– Forced activities for new recruits to ‘prove’ their worth to join
– Forced or required consumption of alcohol
– Requirement to eat spicy foods, other substances
– Requirement to endure hardships such as staying awake, menial tasks, physical labor, running while blindfolded, etc.
– Humiliation of new or potential members
– Isolation of new or potential members
– Beatings, paddling, or other physical acts against new or potential members
– Requirements for new or potential members to do things established members are not required to do
– Illegal activities such as requirement to steal local items as part of a scavenger hunt
Photos courtesy of Emily N. Pualwan