Handling hazing, one handprint at a time
On-campus Greek Life seeks to stop hazing
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 21:09
More than half of American college students involved in clubs, teams and organizations experience hazing, according to HazingPrevention.org.
This week is pledge week for many fraternities and sororities at UB. And while Greek Life is recruiting, some members are also taking the opportunity to speak out against hazing.
On Monday and Tuesday, the UB Inter Greek Council (IGC) held an event in the Student Union to raise awareness and combat hazing.
Shawn Kobetz, a junior Spanish and communication major and the president of IGC and a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, wants to improve the perception people have of Greek Life, while touching on important issues like hazing.
“I just hope that people realize that Greeks are more than just a party,” Kobetz said. “We do a lot of community service and philanthropy work.”
Annually, Greek societies raise about $7 million nationally and volunteer for a total of 850,000 hours, according to East Carolina University’s Greek Life Information Guide.
This week, Greek Life students painted or traced their hands onto a piece of paper, pledging against hazing. Their names and fraternity affiliation were included.
IGC is collecting the pledges as part of National Hazing Prevention Week. Kobetz said in two days, they managed to garner over 200 pledges.
“We really want to get the message across that hazing is wrong,” said Roman Kim, a senior mathematics major and vice president of the social fraternity Lambda Phi Epsilon.
New York State law and UB policy prohibit student organizations from “hazing, pre-initiation activities, or other pseudo-initiation practices that may cause mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule,” according to the Student Affairs’ Policy and Operational Guidelines for Social Fraternal Organizations.
IGC checks up on its members, recognized social fraternities on campus, while also providing support when needed.
Meetings are often held to discuss the current outlook of the fraternities. IGC makes sure that everyone is following the policies of the council and university by holding organizational reviews.
Each fraternity’s e-board goes in front of the judicial board. They are asked a series of questions regarding policy, and they are required to present proof that they are abiding by all rules.
In March 2012, Rolling Stone published a piece detailing hazing abuses Andrew Lohse, a Dartmouth graduate, witnessed while pledging an on-campus fraternity, including swimming in a children’s pool full of rotten food and vomit.
Fraternity hazing has been going on for decades, and though universities ban the practice, it continues.
“I don’t like hazing,” Kobetz said. “Students should join fraternities as a learning experience.”
Most of the hazing at UB, however, happens off campus in unrecognized fraternities and sororities.
All recognized Greek Life on campus does not participate in any form of hazing, Kobetz and Kim said. Students experiencing any type of hazing are urged to report it to school officials right away.
The papers with the pledges will be shown around campus, with a sheet currently hanging on the railings of the Union and another in the showcase across from Putnam’s.
“I think the event has been extremely successful,” said Brian Bischoff, a junior industrial and systems engineering major in Sigma Chi Omega. “We’ve had a ton of pledges.”
IGC also plans to focus on philanthropy this semester, with “Greeks Against Cancer” – an event that will include speakers from different cancer societies who will spread information on various types of cancer. The organization is making this a focus in the spring semester.
Kobetz hopes this week’s event helps establish UB as an anti-hazing campus.