StopHazing Releases Preliminary Evaluation of We Don’t Haze Documentary

In 2016, Clery Center worked with StopHazing to develop We Don’t Hazea free 17-minute documentary to promote hazing prevention on college campuses. The documentary shares the perspectives of students, family members, and professionals whose lives have been impacted by hazing, and touches on key themes in hazing prevention such as examples of hazing, how to recognize hazing behaviors, and alternatives to hazing.

In collaboration with Clery, StopHazing is conducting an evaluation of We Don’t Haze. Findings gleaned from more than 200 college students involved in campus organizations who watched the film point to its promise as a tool for education and prevention. For example, students who view We Don’t Haze are more likely than their peers to agree that:

  • Hazing is an ineffective way to build group unity.
  • They know how to create group unity without hazing.
  • They know how to identify and safely intervene to stop hazing.
  • They feel comfortable talking about why hazing is a problem.

Student feedback has consistently indicated that We Don’t Haze is a powerful film featuring stories, individuals, and imagery that resonate with a college-aged audience. As one student participant stated, “The real-life experiences that were shown in the film…brought so much perspective and light to what a horrendous thing hazing really is.”

Building off of the film, the We Don’t Haze facilitation guide and script provides support for campus professionals to have conversations with students around topics such as the definition of hazing, the difference between hazing and bullying, why individuals can’t give true consent to be hazed, and characteristics of hazing and non-hazing activities.

If you are a student, campus professional, or community member who would like to get more information on We Don’t Haze, the facilitation guide, and other companion resources related to the film, please click here or www.stophazing.org. If you are interested in learning more about how We Don’t Haze can be evaluated on your campus, please contact info@stophazing.org.

A week dedicated to hazing prevention

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. 

Students, colleges, and communities nationwide banded together the week of September 18 through September 22 to spread the word and recognize the harmful effects of hazing. This week, known as National Hazing Prevention Week (NHPW), consisted of activities, contests, and other various events meant to educate others on the traditions of hazing and why it needs to end.

Hank Nuwer, a well-known advocate of the fight against hazing, posted on his webpage the Sunday after NHPW to highlight and give credit to athletes at Franklin College who went five days without drinking alcohol in honor of NHPW:

“Big thanks to Athletic Director Kerry Prather, Coach Andy Hendricks, coaches & athletes for doing what no other college has accomplished–sending a message that alcohol and hazing have hurt too many lives.” – Nuwer

The University of Connecticut held a new event each day as part of their own tenth annual Hazing Prevention Week. Special events included a poster contest dedicated to hazing prevention, a discussion about hazing people could follow on social media using the hashtag #huskiesdonthaze, and others.

HazingPrevention.org holds a NHPW Essay Competition each year that focuses on a hazing-related theme. This year’s theme was “Hazing Hurts – Stop the Cycle.” First place winner went to Ariel McLain from the Garrett Morgan School of Science in Cleveland, Ohio and her essay on how hazing rituals have become “normalized.”

“We brush [hazing] off as a normal part of social acceptance, or by saying everyone has gone through this at least once in their life. Some think that it is worth it, but at what cost?” – McLain

Pennsylvania State University joined the national movement to recognize NHPW as well. Students attended educational events provided by the university, including a short film called We Don’t Haze and a discussion that followed with associate professor of sociology and environmental studies, Nick Rowland. Penn State also held a lecture led by Travis Apgar, a student affairs professional working toward abolishing the hazing culture.

Below are some tweets from student life organizations and how they joined the fight to eradicate hazing during NHPW:

“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.

The Chronicle of Higher Education features the HPC in article on hazing prevention

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. 

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently featured Elizabeth Allan and the Hazing Prevention Consortium (HPC) in an article titled “Colleges Confront the Perils of Frats”. The article discusses the newest developments being made and policies put in place toward eliminating hazing within universities, as well as hazing issues that are still surfacing despite the rules and regulations implemented.

Some universities notice students intermingling innocent games meant to “replace more-dangerous pledging traditions” with long-established hazing practices. These practices involve alcohol, beatings, exposure to “real or stimulated sex acts,” or other harmful customs.

“For all the efforts to rein in fraternities, problems associated with recruitment and initiation seem intractable nationally.”

Despite these steps back, there have also been large steps forward. There’s been an increase in the number of students wanting to discover new, safer activities to promote a “bonding experience” among fraternity and sorority members that doesn’t include the long-practiced tradition of hazing. Students also seem more apt to report situations of hazing they may witness.

“[B]ringing problems out into the open and promoting confidential reporting have helped lift the veil of secrecy that perpetuates abusive behavior.”

Spreading the word on how to prevent hazing helps progress this change. The article quotes Allan while discussing the importance of bringing hazing incidents to light. “Many students report that they talk to their friends and families” when it comes to incidents of hazing, Allan says. It’s important to reach out and connect with them to ensure hazing isn’t occurring. The article provides other ways of prevention as well, including:

  • Pushing “team-building activities,”
  • Taking “greater control over fraternity life,” and
  • Changing “the structure of the recruitment and initiation process.”

Hazing, the weed in the Garden of Eden that suffocates us all

The following post for StopHazing was written by author and anti-hazing activist Hank Nuwer. For more information on Hank, check out his website at www.hanknuwer.com.

While colleges across the country are finding creative ways to celebrate National Hazing Prevention Week Sept. 18-22, I’ve managed considerable progress on my goal to create a database of every hazing incident reported in the media from colonial days to the present.

The present database has come a long way from the database I published in my 1990 book, “Broken Pledges,” using Lexis-Nexis data. Up to now, most major media outlets have cited my database of hazing deaths that showed the U.S. experienced at least one hazing death per year 1969 to 2017.

As of this column, that figure is out of date thanks to research performed for my Indiana University Press investigative book, “Hazing: Destroying Young Lives,” now at the printer for early 2018 publication, as well as research for yet another hazing book begun with a small seed- money grant generously provided by Franklin College.

The new database at http://www.hanknuwer.com now shows one death per year in U.S. colleges, secondary and elementary schools from 1961 to 2017. Think of 1961. JFK was inaugurated. Cuba’s Castro was cuddling with the Soviet Union. The Beatles were the mop-top rage of Liverpool.

Some years many deaths occurred, not just one. If Canada is included, the death figure is one per year from 1959 to 2017. Although there were no U.S. deaths recorded in 1958, there was an annual death from 1954 to 1957.

In addition, I counted a relatively small, though disturbing, number of hazing deaths over the years in Boy Scouts, Masonic organizations, the Knights of Columbus, and the U.S. Armed Forces. The story of how Benjamin Franklin in 1737 momentarily tarnished his reputation by failing to stop a dangerous hazing prank is the first incident in this database.

Behind every death is a family torn apart by the loss of a loved one who was strangled by alcohol, beaten to death, struck by a car while blindfolded, drowned, and so on. The first fraternity death, that of Mortimer Leggett, son of a famed Civil War general with the same name, occurred at spanking new Cornell University in 1873. Young Leggett felloff a cliff on a required midnight walkabout while wearing a blindfold in gorge country.

Then there is the proctor who got sick and tired of being hazed at Swarthmore College and grabbed a flashlight and rifle to slay one tormentor as he slept. The hazer escaped the electric chair with an insanity plea.

There was the recent death of Clemson pledge Tucker Hipps. Hipps died when he fell from a bridge at Lake Hartwell. His was the second Clemson fraternity death at that lake. No reporter, including me, reported that fact until a new keyword search came up with another tragedy at Clemson in 1961—the first year of what would become 56 consecutive years with a hazing death.

Stashed among thousands of news clippings about hazing are earnest appeals from educators, grieving parents, activists and earnest students to do away with this “weed in the garden of academe” as one pundit called it in an 1860 speech at Harvard.

But the problems of hazing in 1860 are the same now, but the perpetrators are a lot more careful to hide their tracks, to lie or to stonewall investigators, and to intimidate anyone threatening to come forward with the truth.

Dead ahead is a trial of more than a dozen Penn State Beta Theta Pi members. They urged pledge Tim Piazza to swallow enough booze to kill him in a fall, and they left him either unattended or abused him as he lay dying.

Just in the last week we’ve seen Louisiana State University student Max Gruver, a pledge for Phi Delta Theta, a staunch advocate for dry houses, die from an overdose. Local police are scrambling to find out what happened to him, but the members have clammed up tight as oysters and are talking only to defense lawyers.

The database shows three fraternity hazing deaths at LSU before Gruver.

I’ve met dozens of the hazed and hazers alike, the families of the dead, the dedicated Greek professionals, a lot of jaded alums, and activists from HazingPrevention.org, Stophazing,org, the AHA Movement and so on. Many parents who gave years of service to the cause have quit, so disillusioned by the continuing string of deaths that they no longer can even utter the word “hazing.”

Everything possible has been tried. Bystander training. Help Weeks instead of Hell Weeks. Associate memberships instead of pledges. Delayed rush. Yanking charters.

But still the deaths continue. I want to assure you there will be no more dangerous hazing when my friend John’s son goes to college in a year or, closer to home, my grandson in a couple more years.

But I can’t.

My list of deaths gets longer, longer and still longer.

Stopping hazing is easy, I tell students. “Just don’t do it.”

But too many don’t listen.

Hank Nuwer is a Franklin College journalism professor and the author of “Hazing: Destroying Young Lives,” “The Hazing Reader,” “Wrongs of Passage” and many other books.