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.”

Can You Help Pass the REACH Act Targeting Hazing on College Campuses?

Last week, Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) hosted a press conference to build support for the Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act. Video from the event-which featured lawmakers, victims of hazing, and other stakeholders-can be viewed below:

Catalyzed, in part, by the tragic death of Timothy Piazza, who died in a hazing incident at Penn State University in February, the REACH Act seeks to ensure accountability, transparency, and education to transform how hazing incidents are tracked and prevented at postsecondary institutions in the United States. The act would require colleges and universities participating in federal financial aid programs to 1) include incidents of hazing in their annual security report, as mandated by the Clery Act; and 2) implement hazing education programs.

Such measures are needed because hazing occurs across a range of student organizations and 55% of college students participating in groups, organizations, and teams experience hazing with documented outcomes such as physical harm, emotional trauma, and, at times, death. Julie and Gary DeVercelly, who lost their son Gary DeVercelly, Jr. to hazing in 2007, spoke at the REACH Act press conference citing 40 hazing deaths since 2007. As Gary stated at the event, “the circumstances of their deaths are disturbingly similar. Gary’s death, like Timothy’s, was the focus of national attention and it prompted calls to stop hazing. But eventually the national attention moved on and nothing was changed.”

The REACH Act is endorsed by the Clery Center, Lugar Center, Penn State University, StopHazing, HazingPrevention.Org, Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, and all national fraternity and sorority umbrella organizations, which together represent over 140 fraternities and sororities across the United States. Further support for the bill, however, is needed to ensure it is passed and meaningful progress to track and prevent hazing on college campuses is made. If you are involved with a national organization connected to higher education or a college or university, we encourage you to send this information along to your organizational leadership and ask if they would consider supporting and endorsing the REACH Act.

If you have any questions or would like to be added as a cosponsor please contact quin.roberts@mail.house.gov with Rep. Patrick Meehan at 202.225.2511 or clifton.williams@mail.house.gov with Rep. Marcia Fudge at 202.225.7032.