Here we go again. Summer is coming to an end, which means that colleges and universities are gearing up to welcome-in the new student bodies for the new school year. While the Administration is preparing for housing, meal-plan and class-scheduling issues, those involved in Greek Life (fraternities and sororities) are preparing for "rush." What is "rush?" This is a ritual whereby prospective fraternity or sorority members get an opportunity to meet each other at social events and other gatherings. Many of these activities are simply that, namely, fun activities designed to help our kids meet new friends! Unfortunately, the fact is that some of these so-called "fun" activities will go too far. Some will be dangerous. Some will harm our kids. A few stats to consider about hazing:
• There is a 73% chance that your son or daughter will seek to pledge a fraternity or sorority.
• Over 50% of college students will experience hazing at some point during their college careers.
• 95% of students who are hazed will choose not to report the incident to campus officials because
o they don't want their group to get in trouble;
o they are afraid of negative consequences to them individually; and
o they didn't know where to report.
So, what's the big deal? Isn't hazing just a lot of silly rituals like swallowing goldfish or "mooning" the student body? Sadly, no. Hazing is much more than harmless pranks. Hazing is any activity required of someone who is seeking to join or participate in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers regardless of the person's willingness to participate. Common hazing practices include alcohol/binge drinking, humiliation, isolation, sleep deprivation and sexual acts. Additional hazing rituals that may lead to traumatic injuries include beating, branding, consuming nonfood substances and simulated drowning. These activities are extremely dangerous practices, and are sometimes even fatal.
If your son or daughter is thinking about becoming involved in Greek Life, below are a few important things for him/her to consider:
1. Knowledge is power. Learn about what hazing is, so you can recognize it, prevent it, or when necessary, report it.
2. Ask the fraternity/sorority you are pledging about their hazing policies. If the response you receive is anything less than absolute denouncement, pledge elsewhere.
3. Don't fear using your voice to the Administration, your teachers, or anyone who will listen if you suspect hazing is happening on your campus.
4. Familiarize yourself with and/or join the many non-profit organizations dedicated to hazing prevention, and encourage your friends to join, too!
5. Use social media to show your support of a zero-tolerance for hazing.
September 19 - 23, 2016 is National Hazing Prevention Week. Between now and September 19th, many anti-hazing organizations, fraternities and sororities are actively promoting various campaigns by writing articles, tweeting, posting Instagram images, and hosting webinars and events all geared towards gaining national awareness about this epidemic on our college campuses. How can you support these efforts?
Talk to your son. Talk to your daughter. Any student can become the victim of hazing. And any student and parent can become a powerful force in the national movement to end hazing. Now.
Have you or someone you know been the victim of hazing? Your comments and stories are welcomed!