Go Greek the right way

Anti-hazing workshop encourages Greek organizations to end dangerous practices

The Spectrum

On Saturday, all new members of on-campus Greek organizations gathered in the Student Union for a mandatory anti-hazing workshop.

UB requires each new member of Greek Life to attend the workshop. Pamela Stephens-Jackson, the assistant director for Fraternity and Sorority Life, organizes the event with support from the Inter-Greek Council (IGC). The event also addressed alcohol abuse.

If new members failed to attend, they could not join any Greek organization. The university will not include absentees on their records for being a member of Greek Life, according to IGC President Shawn Kobetz, a junior communication major.

He thinks making the workshop mandatory prevents hazing because everyone has been given the necessary information on anti-hazing.

"The purpose behind it is to, first of all, lay the ground rules so they understand what the university's expectations of their new member process are," Stephens-Jackson said. "[We want] to provide some preventive information in regards to avoidance of hazing and situations that they can get themselves into trouble or danger."

New members were advised on whom they can look to for help during difficult situations, and they received their national organizations' contact information.

Mohammed Hossain, a freshman mechanical engineering major, never intended to join Greek Life in college. He is a new member of the social fraternity Lambda Phi Epsilon. Hossain had never watched anti-hazing videos or heard others' thoughts on the issue before attending the workshop, so he found it useful.

"You should always have your own opinion in anything that you do, so I don't think hazing should be acceptable," Hossain said.

He said the anti-hazing video was "scary," but it taught him the importance of making his own choices - especially if it's on something he doesn't want to do.

"You shouldn't be forced to do [anything] ... if it's something that you don't want to do, then I think that's hazing," Hossain said. "If I were ever being hazed, I'd have definitely not done it. I would just leave and not put up with it."

Kobetz said students could have a "better experience at UB" with Greek Life, especially because national organizations have their staff members conduct regular checks on their respective chapters. In addition, each organization has its own anti-hazing workshops.

"There are so many stereotypes and rumors about fraternities hazing ... and we don't want to have that," Kobetz said. "We just want to remind [new members] that if someone is doing something they're uncomfortable with, they can just say no - they don't have to be hazed."

Saturday's workshop also addressed alcohol abuse. Kobetz said it is essential to inform new members of how "easy it is to drink too much."

At UB, Greek organizations are automatically suspended if there are hazing allegations against them, according to Kobetz. Stephens-Jackson will then review these cases along with a council of UB faculty members and Judicial Affairs. The Greek organization in question will also receive a suspension letter from its national headquarters.

Stephens-Jackson believes the anti-hazing message is "pretty well understood" amongst Greek organizations on campus. She said the most important point of the workshop is to raise awareness on the dangers of hazing and to encourage positive and productive activities during new member processes.

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