Office of the Dean of Students launches antihazing initiative

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Photo Credit: Jacky Tovar | Daily Texan Staff

A new initiative from UT’s Office of the Dean of Students is working to dispel the notion that hazing occurs only in Greek life.

Horns Against Hazing, the new event-based program, is set to tackle hazing on a more campuswide level, said Jennifer Mason, prevention and risk management coordinator for the Office of Dean of Students. The initiative will have its kick-off event at the Texas Union from April 10 through 11. 

“We definitely want students to be more aware of what hazing can include,” said Sara Kennedy, spokeswoman for the Office of the Dean of Students. “It doesn’t necessarily look like what they might see on TV. We want all students to know that hazing can happen in any student group, organization, association or team. There’s not just one kind of student organization that experiences hazing.”

Kennedy said the new initiative aims to broaden the conversation of hazing to students beyond Greek life, so they are equipped with the skills necessary to recognize and report hazing in their own organizations. 

UT prohibits hazing, according to the University General Information Catalog. Hazing can include physical brutality, physical activity that puts a student at an unreasonable risk or any activity that may adversely affects a student’s mental or physical health. The catalog defines hazing as an on- or off-campus intentional act for the purpose of maintaining membership in an organization.

As of February 2018, 12 university organizations had been disciplined for hazing or convicted of hazing in the past three years, according to the Texas Hazing Statute Summary, which is required to be publicly released by the University.

Hazing awareness is nothing new for the Office of the Dean of Students, Kennedy said. Each fall semester, student organization leaders are required to complete the Office of the Dean of Students’ Safety Education Program, in which hazing is one of the main topics. After completing training, student leaders are supposed to go back to their organization and teach their members about the safety procedures they learned. However, The Daily Texan reported last semester that there is no enforcement by the University on verifying whether students leaders fulfill this requirement. 

Evana Flores, advertising junior and UT Panhellenic Council president, said UPC has a zero tolerance policy for hazing. Each sorority chapter is required to complete hazing awareness education through their internal organizations rather than through UPC, Flores said.

“As (UPC) president, my knowledge of chapter issues with hazing is very limited,” Flores said in an emailed statement. “I would only be informed if it was something serious, and that, thankfully, hasn’t happened.” 

Mason said she is working to involve various campus partners and the greater UT community into shifting the culture around hazing.

“Hazing is an issue on every campus,” Mason said. “In our perspective, student safety has to be our first priority, and that’s why we’ve created Horns Against Hazing.”

Kennedy said as time progresses, the way the University addresses certain issues has to adapt.

“As our students change, as campus life changes, the way that we talk to our students, interact with our students and reach our students to make a real difference has to change too,” Kennedy said.