As freshmen settle into their new college lifestyles and begin to think about getting involved on campus, there might be more to the equation than just deciding to join a student organization. For years, Drexel has had a strong anti-hazing initiative, which is celebrated during one week of the year but implemented year-round. This week was the annual Hazing Prevention and Awareness Week on campus, which included fundraisers, question-and-answer sessions on Twitter, and other informational activities and workshops. Students were also invited to take the anti-hazing pledge to promise to stand up against hazing and to participate in constructive activities with new members of their campus organizations. Drexel’s commitment to being a hazing-free university is admirable but probably not 100 percent possible. Most students at Drexel have heard stories of hazing that occurs despite the administration’s best efforts. What, then, ought you do if you or someone you know is being hazed?
Although Drexel seems to have a plan in place to develop a strong anti-hazing campaign (exemplified by how the University was awarded the 2012 Zeta Tau Alpha Award for Innovation in Campus Hazing Prevention and Education), the Hazing Education Initiative website currently lacks resources. Much of the content — including pages on healthy team-building ideas; what to do if you or a friend is being hazed; and an educational hazing video and resources for faculty, staff and parents — is “coming soon,” leaving students to look vainly for University resources online. We don’t haze at The Triangle (really), but we came up with a few suggestions for students who are facing these difficult situations as they join campus organizations.
When an incident occurs, talk to someone within the organization who may not know what is going on. If you are being hazed by one member of the organization or a select few, there’s a chance the rest of the members or leaders aren’t aware hazing is happening within the group. By bringing the issue to their attention, they can handle the problem and take the proper course of action to eliminate any hazing.
Refuse to participate in any hazing activities. If you don’t like what the organization is making you do, then don’t do it. It may be difficult to stand up for yourself when you are trying to make friends and branch out, but try to get other members to stand with you. Refusing to comply with hazing as a group could force an organization to take a look at its practices. If this means you lose your membership, the organization risks word of the incident spreading. For all you know, feeling resistance may prompt the organization to stop hazing altogether.
Another option is to bring it to the attention of University officials. If the University knows that hazing exists in an organization, the administration will not permit it to continue, and the organization could be penalized. Administrators would be able to handle the situation in a professional manner, ensuring the safety of the University’s students and the discontinuation of hazing. Hazing can be reported to Campus Activities, Student Affairs, Student Conduct & Community Standards, Fraternity & Sorority Life, and Public Safety.
The next course of action would be to leave the organization. Walking away from the organization doesn’t make you a quitter; it shows that you have the strength to stand up and protect yourself. Other members being hazed may realize that they also have a choice and may follow your example. Forcing yourself away from a potentially dangerous hazing situation could save your life.
Lastly, if you feel powerless to stop hazing or are being pressured into it, remember your own personal integrity. Ask yourself: Is membership in this organization worth it? Would you really want to be part of an organization that hazes? If you feel uncomfortable about hazing, do not join organizations that have a reputation for it. Stand up for yourself and do not submit to the hazing process. If you have to risk your membership in the organization as a result, well, so be it. You’re not just a “new member” or a “pledge”; you’re a human being. Don’t let people treat you like anything less.