“Hazing in America” – confronting hazing culture

The following post for StopHazing was written by Lara Carney, an intern for StopHazing and a fourth year Journalism major at the University of Maine with a double minor in professional and creative writing. 

“If it doesn’t feel right, if it doesn’t look right – get out.”

James Piazza gave this advice to any student planning on joining a student organization during a live event called “Hazing in America” on NBC’s Today show.

The parents of Timothy Piazza, a recent victim of hazing at Pennsylvania State University, were joined by their attorney, Tom Kline, and representatives Patrick Meehan from Pennsylvania and Marcia Fudge from Ohio to discuss the prevalence of hazing within colleges and universities.

NBC News featured the live segment on their “Hazing in America” page dedicated to covering recent news of hazing across the country. The video discusses the issues of hazing, how common it continues to be seen within colleges, and how to prevent it.

In a study done by NBC News earlier this month, 10,408 adults nationwide answered questions about their experiences and thoughts on hazing. Among those who were members of a fraternity or a sorority, almost half (41 percent) said they know people who have admitted to both hazing and being hazed. Sixty-six percent of current college students within the study also agreed that “hazing is a serious problem that needs more attention.”

It’s hard to spot the signs of hazing among students. The Piazza’s stressed the importance of children feeling comfortable enough to open up to their parents. That way they do speak up if they become a victim of hazing, or witness it happening to someone else.

Representatives Meehan and Fudge are co-founders of the Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act that would require all college hazing incidents on campus to be reported. They spoke on how not enough is being done to prevent hazing at colleges. Fudge suggested examples like prosecution or expulsion so students would fear the repercussions of hazing.

“If there is not an aggressive posture towards the prosecution of [hazing], then there will not be deterrence,” attorney Tom Kline said during the live event. “There’s a culture of abuse and a culture of recidivism that we have here, and someone has to try to break it.”

– in effect, students don’t take the outcomes of hazing seriously, and continue to haze because of this.