Edwin Qian

State Sen. Judith Zaffirini proposed a bill in November that, if enacted, would update and clarify the legal definition and repercussions of hazing. 

Senate Bill 33 amends Texas’ hazing statute, created in 1995 and followed by universities statewide. Zaffirini filed similar legislation in 2007 and 2009. This version, which would take effect on Sept. 1, 2015, is a refile of the 2009 version, Zaffirini said in an email.

The amended bill includes a narrower definition of immunity from prosecution and adds that coercing a student to drink alcohol or creating “an environment in which the student reasonably feels coerced” is part of the definition of hazing, among other amendments that specify terms and procedures.

Zaffirini included more specific descriptions of alcohol-related hazing and cases of immunity in SB 33 because she felt the state’s current hazing statute was inadequate.

“[T]he statute does not address adequately the dangers of alcohol-related hazing,” Zaffirini said in an email. “[T]he immunity provisions for those reporting hazing are unclear and arguably create the perverse possibility that students can avoid liability by reporting their own acts of hazing.”

The Office of the Dean of Students declined to comment on the proposed bill. 

“Once a [hazing] case has been filed, I know the Dean of Students takes it very seriously,” Interfraternity Council President Edwin Qian said. “As for the details of the investigation process or the mutual agreements after that, it’s determined by the Dean of Students and the organization itself.”

Zaffirini said she filed the bill because hazing is a serious issue in Texas and the rest of the country.

“A study by the Children’s National Medical Center reported that, in the last 57 years, English-language newspapers reported more than 250 cases of death linked to bullying or hazing — at least 55 of which were associated specifically with hazing,” Zaffirini said. “What’s more, the problem has shown no signs of abating. A recent Bloomberg article reported that ‘more than 60 people [nationally] have died in fraternity-related events since 2005, many involving alcohol abuse and hazing.’”

Qian said updating the bill is important because, like with any law, people find loopholes that must be addressed. He said that publicizing this information to student organizations, Greek and non-Greek, is necessary to prevent hazing on campus. 

“It’s really to get the message out and be proactive from the law enforcement side — letting organizations know what is okay and what is not,” Qian said. “If you want people to follow the rules, you have to tell them about the rules and help them understand the rules.” 

In the proposed amendments, an individual who reports his or her own hazing will have immunity from prosecution. Zaffirini said maintaining discussion and state regulation on hazing is essential to keeping students on college campuses safe.

“The safety of students on campus must be our top priority,” Zaffirini said. “Efforts to combat hazing and to protect those who come forward to report hazing would not only help keep students safe but also enhance the educational experience of students statewide.”

Qian said the amended immunity clause of the bill will keep the Greek system and other organizations accountable.

“Some people might be afraid to be the whistle blower, so having that in there is really going to help people understand why it is important to report these actions and encouraging people in a way to help this campus become a hazing-free campus,” Qian said.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

The number of mustaches on campus may increase this November.

Interfraternity Council members are using facial hair to raise awareness about men’s health, especially testicular and prostate cancer, in their fifth “Movember.” Beginning Saturday, members are asking men on campus to grow a mustache to show their support for men’s health, and, if they choose, to do so to raise money, which will be donated to the Livestrong and Movember foundations.

“The idea behind Movember is you start the month clean-shaven, and then you grow a mustache,” said Matt Lillard, economics senior and IFC vice president of philanthropy. “And when people ask you about it you say ‘Oh, I’m doing this for Movember to raise awareness for men’s health.”

To encourage participation, Lillard said IFC hired The Boondock Barbershop to park its trailer on Speedway and give out free shaves to students.

“We’re trying to get people clean shaven and signed up,” Lillard said.

Participating students receive a straight-edge shave that would otherwise cost $35, according to Edwin Qian, economics and management information systems senior and IFC president. The trailer will be on campus until Friday.

“We thought, what a better idea than for us to be a part of it,” said Ziridiana Mendez, manager of The Boondock. “Because we can bring out a little bit of our services with our awesome barbers and bring awareness to everyone else about what Movember is.”

Students who participate in Movember have the option to ask for donations while growing their facial hair. According to Qian, the IFC raised over $21,000 last year for Movember, and their goal for this year is $30,000.

“It’s been growing significantly every year,” Qian said.

IFC is the parent organization of 26 University fraternities. Qian said the fraternities are working with each other to raise money for
the cause.

“The council really wants to unite all the fraternities together to work toward a common goal,” Qian said.

The Movember Foundation is a global organization, and, according to Qian, other universities across the nation participate in the month, including Oklahoma State University, Iowa State University, Baylor University and Texas Christian University. Qian said the schools in the Big 12 are competing to raise the most money.

Isaac Reyes, mechanical engineering senior and member of Pi Kappa Phi, was waiting in line at the trailer. He said Movember was personal to him because he has known people with prostate cancer.

“I’m also a member of Texas 4000,” Reyes said. “We’re a big proponent of fighting cancer, and one of the big movements that we’re responsible for is tackling prostate cancer, which is something that several friends of my family have gone through.”

Reyes is not yet sure what type of facial hair he is going to grow.

“I was growing out a beard earlier in the semester, and I shaved it,” Reyes said. “So, I guess I’m going clean before the month starts. We’ll see. I don’t grow the best mustache, but maybe this is the time to figure out if I can.”

With the Austin City Council passing a resolution calling for changes to the city sound ordinance Thursday, students are continuing to work with the city as it looks at possible code amendments.

Members of Student Government and the Interfraternity Council have been working in conjunction with Council member Chris Riley and his team to adjust the stricter enforcement in West Campus of the city sound ordinance, which began Wednesday. Currently, the ordinance calls for an organization to request a permit 21 days before an event and have a specific site plan. To address this, SG and Riley wrote similar resolutions calling for alterations to the ordinance for private events.

Leah Bojo, policy aide for Riley, said students approached Riley’s office with concerns about the strict regulations. While the complete solution to student concerns is still in the works, Bojo said she thinks a private party permit is a start.

“We did initiate an item at the last City Council meeting to create a permit for private parties that is reasonable — that respects the quality of life of the folks that live in the neighborhood — and that also allows students to have safe parties but does actually allow them to have parties,” Bojo said.

She said the resolution will be sent to city staff members who will work on the details of the permit and determine how to proceed with the permit from here.

“We passed an item directing city staff to conduct stakeholder meetings and come back with a recommendation,” Bojo said. “Now the ball is kind of in the court of the staff.”

IFC President Edwin Qian said the City Council’s resolution indicates support for University students.

“What it means is that the City Council now recognizes that there is a problem, and they are going to set up a committee to work on this problem,” said Qian, economics and management information systems senior.

Along with continued collaboration with the city, Qian said the next step for IFC is to hire an attorney to look at a solution to the ordinance from a legal standpoint.

“We can’t just name things we want,” Qian said. “We have to make sacrifices, and we also have to make sure that the new solution — A.K.A. the special permit for West Campus — really fits our needs.”

Biology senior Cameron Crane, SG College of Natural Science representative and an author of the SG resolution, said SG plans to reexamine the resolution to see if any amendments need to be made. A possible change, according to Crane, is suggesting the city extend the sound ordinance start time to 2 a.m. If any changes are made, they will be presented and voted on at Tuesday’s SG meeting.

“Once it goes to the assembly for a vote on Tuesday — assuming it passes — we will start taking more steps and meetings with various student groups and also with our city relations task force at city hall, to start,” Crane said.

Qian said there were not many fraternity parties over the past weekend because of first weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. He said he expects the same for next weekend because of the Red River Showdown football game in Dallas and the second weekend of ACL. For this reason, he said the strictness of the ordinance in its current state will be known later in October.

“The next time we’ll see [the ordinance] head on will be the weekend of the 17th,” Qian said. “So we’ll see whether or not there is going to be a drastic effect.”

In September, a group of students planned to protest the ordinance. The protest was rescheduled and, ultimately, did not occur.

The Interfraternity Council decided not to endorse candidates this year after receiving criticism last year for an email sent to the leaders of the council’s 24 fraternities endorsing current Student Government President Horacio Villarreal and Vice President Ugeo Williams’ executive alliance campaign.

“We got backlash from [last year’s email]. People’s biggest concerns were his use of the word ‘endorse,’” said Edwin Qian, Interfraternity Council president and management information systems and economics senior. “What [the council] meant was for it to be an informational email, not an endorsement.”

The council held a meeting Wednesday to allow all candidates running for SG positions to discuss their platforms to the leaders of the council’s fraternities. After the meeting, the council sent an email informing council fraternities about the candidates who spoke at the meeting, but did not endorse any of them, Qian said.

“While the IFC is not endorsing any candidates in this SG election, we appraise these candidates for showing strong pro-Greek interest and thank them for taking the time to speak to IFC leaders,” the email said.  

According to Qian, the council’s role in SG elections has been inconsistent in the past. Qian said he will urge candidates running for the executive alliance, Texas Student Media, University-wide representative positions and the Co-op Board of Directors to discuss their platforms with fraternity leaders.

“This year we’re still trying to promote the election because our ultimate goal is to get more students involved and informed about the election,” Qian said. “The only thing that’s really changed is that last year’s email didn’t really include any platforms, but this year we want people to know why they’re running and what their plans are.”

Villarreal, a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, and Williams were endorsed in last year’s email and won with more than 53 percent of the vote.

Villarreal said he did not see last year’s email as a big issue and would expect other organizations to endorse candidates who are members of their organization.

“It’s a tricky thing for someone that is involved in the community such as myself,” Villarreal said. “I didn’t see it as an incredibly big issue, especially if whoever was running was involved in another organization.”

According to Qian, if a member of the council chooses to endorse a candidate, the endorsement would be personal and not a council endorsement. He said individual fraternities are still entitled to endorse anyone they want.

The candidates for the executive alliance are not a part of a fraternity. Caroline Carter, the vice presidential candidate running with presidential candidate Kenton Wilson, is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, a sorority in the University Panhellenic Council.

Wilson said he thought it was great the council would not be sending out an email endorsing a particular candidate.

“It will keep us on our game to make sure we reach out to all students instead of just relying on some electronic form of communication,” Wilson said. “We’re getting more of a chance to explain ourselves because [Greek members] know the email is not coming out, so they can’t just sit back and wait on it.”

Taylor Strickland, the vice presidential candidate running alongside presidential candidate Kornel “Kori” Rady, said the change would give students an opportunity to learn about each platform. 

“I don’t think it affects the turnout as much, as it will really urge people to go out and be informed voters, which is all we can really hope for as candidates,” Strickland said.

The kaleidoscopic blur of neon-colored apparel and partying that is Roundup will commence this weekend.

Officials overseeing the administrative side of the Greek-oriented event are bracing themselves for the weekend’s festivities, implementing a host of safety initiatives that will facilitate responsible decision-making and keep high school students out of parties and away from alcohol. 

Following several of the same safety initiatives carried out for Roundup 2012 — a relatively successful weekend that saw a decrease in filed police reports — the Interfraternity and University Panhellenic councils distributed 20,000 identification wristbands over the course of three days at several off-campus locations and outside the Student Activity Center on Thursday. 

Edwin Qian, a management information systems junior and member of the IFC, said the wristbands are primarily distributed to diminish the presence of high school students. Qian said Roundup is not a recruiting event for Greek organizations. 

“The wristband is mainly to keep the high school kids out this weekend,” Qian said. “If you have a UT ID, we scan it to verify your identity. The scanners we use are hooked up to the UT student database to make sure people don’t get more than one wristband.” 

Qian said participants need not be enrolled at UT. Students from all universities can attend Roundup as long as they present valid ID. 

“Since Roundup is pretty famous, a lot of non-UT students come to hang out with us,” Qian said. “We just have to verify that they’re of age or attending college.” 

Donald James McNamara, a finance junior and president of the IFC, said Roundup is not a UT-sanctioned event or in any way hosted by the IFC or UPC. Rather, all Roundup events are planned by individual Greek organizations. The IFC, UPC and Office of the Dean of Students partner to find ways to curb high school student attendance and assure the safety of participants. 

“Each individual fraternity is responsible for managing all aspects of their Roundup events, including attendance policy, event safety and risk management,” McNamara said. “All safety planning implemented by individual organizations should be in accordance with the IFC Risk Management Policy, each fraternity’s own risk management policy and all state and local laws.” 

McNamara said the IFC has no specific arrangements with law enforcement, but has hired third-party companies to deal with security and first response.

“We have not been in contact with the Austin Police Department, and Roundup is out of UTPD’s jurisdiction,” McNamara said, “but we do have our own EMS and ambulance on call for the weekend, just in case anything goes wrong.” 

Andrianna Frinzi, a communication studies junior and spokeswoman for the UPC, said each organization’s security and safety procedures differ, but there are minimum guidelines each organization must meet. 

McNamara elaborated on his own fraternity’s security procedures.

“Basically, there is a hired third party that will handle the front door at events,” McNamara said. “They will be asking students to present the IFC wristband in order to get in. Most places will also be checking student IDs just to make sure people are of age. If there’s alcohol present at the event, then there will be a third party handing out separate age-verified wristbands.” 

Greek organizations participating in Roundup won’t all be hosting parties. Ryan Lohmann, a civil engineering senior and member of the faith-based Beta Upsilon Chi, said his fraternity and Sigma Phi Lamda will distribute free water bottles to Roundup participants on the corner of 25th and Pearl streets. 

Taylor Villarreal, a journalism sophomore who will attend her first Roundup this year, said she is not worried about safety. 

“I know that Roundup has a reputation for being fun and very neon … and crazy, very crazy,” Villarreal said. “A lot of events are during the day, so I’m not concerned. It’s in West Campus, and I live pretty close. I have a lot of friends here, so a lot of people that are out I already know.”