Organizations raise awareness about hazing

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    TCU’s student organizations are kicking off their first National Hazing Prevention Week with a hodgepodge of events aimed to prevent hazing, though TCU officials said the events are not in response to past hazing issues.National Hazing Prevention Week is geared to educate students, campuses and community members on hazing prevention, polices and procedures within state and federal law, as well as TCU’s policy, said James Parker, assistant dean of Campus Life.

    “I think this is a proactive way for the university, the student organizations and the students to say, ‘Let’s go out and educate people on the proper way (to prevent hazing),'” Parker said, “rather than reacting after something happens.”

    According to TCU’s anti-hazing policy, hazing is any action that creates “mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule,” which may include scavenger hunts, road trips or anything that causes excessive fatigue.

    Greek officials declined to comment on past hazing allegations, but Panhellenic adviser Stephanie Williams said hazing can easily arise within any student organization.

    “I think we all notice that we don’t have many conversations about hazing until after the investigation,” she said. “We want to make sure that not only students, but staff and faculty … are aware of what we are trying to prevent so it can be a campus-wide effort.”

    At least 20 members of the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council, and at least five members of the National Panhellenic Council and Multicultural Greek Council, are required to attend the event to learn about hazing prevention, Parker said.

    The presidents of each student organization, including the 29 sororities and fraternities, have been educated on hazing prevention, but the issue has not been openly discussed in the past, Williams said.

    Phi Gamma Delta member Thomas White, a junior radio-TV-film major, said although National Hazing Prevention Week might educate some, “It’s not going to stop everybody regardless of what they do.”

    National Hazing Prevention Week was initiated last year by CAMPUSPEAK, an agency that hosts a college circuit of speakers, to fight against hazing after a brainstorming session at the Association of Fraternity Advisors 2003 Annual Meeting, according to campuspeak.com.

    Williams said she suggested TCU take part in the National Hazing Prevention Week this year after attending the AFA meeting last November. There she watched “Unless a Death Occurs,” a documentary that describes the legal and emotional effects of hazing.

    TCU Greeks will show that documentary at a hazing symposium and luncheon for all faculty, staff and advisers Wednesday as a part of National Hazing Prevention Week, Williams said.

    The documentary also addresses the repercussions of not reporting hazing incidents, she said.

    “Just because you aren’t the person who may be participating in the act, you knowing about it and not preventing it or trying to stop it makes you just as guilty,” she said.

    Along with the hazing symposium, T. J. Sullivan, founder of CAMPUSPEAK, will speak on “Confronting the Idiot in Your Chapter” Thursday, Parker said.

    In addition to this week’s hazing prevention activities, Williams said TCU is introducing a direct phone line where anyone can report hazing allegations.

    Emily Gilmore, director of social enrichment for Panhellenic, said she is working on signature tables located outside The Main where student organizations, Greeks and athletic groups can sign anti-hazing petitions.

    “It’s each organization’s way of showing support for hazing prevention,” said Gilmore, a senior interior design major.

    Martha Botts, Kappa Kappa Gamma president and senior fashion merchandising major, said hazing is not just a national problem in fraternities and sororities; it’s also an issue in high schools and sport teams.

    “Hazing is getting worse,” she said. “If it’s not nipped in the bud, it will just keep growing.