National Hazing Prevention Week re-energizes conversation around University policy

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In light of hazing cases at other institutions in the past year, some UT student organizations emphasized their no-tolerance policies during National Hazing Prevention Week, which ended Friday.

The University defines hazing as any act which “endangers the mental or physical health or safety” of a student to maintain membership or be initiated into a club or organization, such as Greek life. Penn State sophomore Timothy Piazza died in a hazing activity in February, and a Pennsylvania judge earlier this month dropped the most serious charges against the fraternity members involved in the incident.

“During this past week’s National Hazing Prevention Week, (Texas University Panhellenic Council) took the time to recognize the prevention policies that each chapter has in place,” UPC president Sarah Stubbs said in an email. “Each chapter nationally participates in hazing awareness and education programs that take place throughout this month.”

Due to the nature of hazing acts, which often occur during initiation rituals in campus organizations, Greek life groups around the country are constantly under scrutiny for hazing activities. Texas Interfraternity Council and Texas UPC work closely with the Office of the Dean of Students to prevent all hazing activities year-round. 

“Hazing has no place in any setting, including fraternities,” said Peter Stanley, IFC vice president of communications, in an email. “Texas IFC recognizes and supports National Hazing Prevention Week, but most of our anti-hazing programming occurs throughout the entire year. For example, all IFC new members attend a new member speaker in the fall regarding hazing prevention and other risk reduction practices.”

The University recently sent students an email outlining its hazing policies, a routine message sent out yearly that was not directly related to the incident. Marilyn Russell, director of sorority and fraternity life, said the University continually works to extend the idea of hazing prevention past the national week of awareness.

“The National Hazing Prevention Week hazing prevention efforts are an ongoing educational approach for all student organizations at UT,” Russell said. “While things that happen at other institutions can have an impact and can re-energize efforts, UT has an ongoing conversation about risk reduction.” 

Russell said the recognition of National Hazing Prevention Week has reinvigorated the University and student organizations’ efforts to keep students safe while implementing activities to make students aware of the risks involved with this sort of behavior.