National Hazing Prevention Week: Recognize, Respond, and Reach Out

Category: Fraternity

Emma Silvers

Alpha Xi, Oregon

Sept. 19-23, 2022, is National Hazing Prevention Week.

On today’s college campuses, over one half of students will experience hazing in some form, regardless of sorority or fraternity affiliation. Given this statistic, it’s critical to recognize hazing, respond to harmful behavior, and reach out for support.

Recognize

Upon initiation, all Theta members acknowledge that hazing has no place in our organization. Defined in Kappa Alpha Theta’s Constitution and Bylaws, hazing “endangers or reasonably may be expected to endanger the emotional and/or physical health or safety” and behavior can be considered hazing “regardless of one’s willingness to participate.”

It’s important to note that there are likely local definitions of hazing at the university/college, state, province, and/or federal levels. While Theta’s definition always stands, be sure to understand what other expectations (and potential consequences) are present. Ignorance or an inability to recognize what is hazing is not an acceptable reason to stand by or participate in hazing.

There is no exhaustive list of hazing behaviors and that is intentional. Hazing behavior could be severe and egregious or slight and subtle. Both (and everything in between) are subject to consequences, create long-lasting harm, and can have consequences for individuals and organizations.

Respond

A power dynamic exists when a group interacts in a way where some members have more power, influence, or control over others. Power dynamics become harmful when those holding power use it to undermine, devalue, and minimize those without.

Power dynamics make it challenging to speak out against hazing, especially when those with power are engaging in the harmful behavior. Fear of retaliation may be a barrier to intervening as a bystander, which is why external reporting opportunities exist. Sharing concerns of hazing behavior can often be done anonymously, and responses can prioritize the well-being of the reporter.

Bystander intervention is the act of recognizing a potentially harmful situation and responding in a way that positively influences the outcome. Without bystander intervention, the behavior continues to be acceptable. Prevention, education, and response resources exist to support individuals navigating power-based group dynamics.

Reach Out

Creating a respectful, equitable, and safe environment is the responsibility of all members. The following resources exist to support individuals who may be navigating a response to hazing.

  • HazingPrevention.org: Here exist resources for students, advisors, parents, and professionals, including information on hazing laws, involvement opportunities, and awareness events. https://hazingprevention.org/
  • The Anti-Hazing Hotline: This free reporting line is for those who are, or know someone who may be, a victim of hazing, with the option to remain anonymous. (888) NOT-HAZE
  • Hazing: The Issue: This StopHazing Research Lab article overviews what hazing is and how it impacts college students today. https://stophazing.org/issue/
  • Penn State University – Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform: The Center offers dynamic research focusing on the prevention of hazing, substance misuse, and dangerous drinking. https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/piazzacenter

If you, or someone you know, has concerns about hazing within Theta, please reach out via the Contact form (select "Report a Health or Safety Concern").