Monday, July 12, 2010

Novak Institute for Hazing Prevention

By Tim Wilkinson, Director, Office of Fraternity & Sorority Affairs

From June 9th through June 13th, I had the opportunity to attend the Novak Institute for Hazing Prevention, hosted by and held at The State University of New York (SUNY) Geneseo. The Institute is an annual educational opportunity that brings together college campuses to discuss all aspects of hazing. Some of the discussion points included the perceived intent and psychology behind hazing, ways to educate students on the effects and dangers of hazing, and tips for building campus coalitions to eradicate hazing from an entire institution. Some of the interesting takeaways from the Institute included…

• The problem of hazing begins well before college. Nearly half (47%) of college students reported being hazed in high school, according to the National Student on Student Hazing.
• Over half (55%) of college students involved in clubs, teams, and organizations experience hazing.
• In 95% of the cases where students identified their experience as hazing, they did not report the events to campus officials.
• 69% of students who belonged to a student activity reported they were aware of hazing activities occurring in student organizations other than their own.

One of the things that most impacted me was the way we can all take a new approach on recognizing hazing. As students and staff, we are always arguing about what is hazing. How often when we debate hazing do we hear the following statement?

“According to the definition, everything’s hazing!”

We need to stop thinking of hazing in terms of a list of activities. Think of hazing the way it has been reframed at Florida State University.

“Students should not be demeaned or exposed to harm when pursuing involvement in campus life.”

If you are on a sports team, a member of a fraternity or sorority, or in a club or campus organization, and you can’t answer that statement, then you know it is hazing! OFSA is continuing to lead the charge in understanding and eradicating hazing at Lehigh. We are continuing the Bystander Initiative, Peer Values Educators, 888-NOT-HAZE, the on-line hazing reporting system, as well as all of the educational programming we do with chapters. Look for OFSA to continue to build campus coalitions in 2010-11 with faculty, athletics, student organizations and university alumni. This is the number one way to make hazing prevention the priority that it needs to be.

Lehigh will continue to take the lead in hazing prevention, as we have been chosen as the host site for the 2011 Novak Institute for Hazing Prevention. When we come together as a Lehigh community, it can be a very powerful thing. Isn’t eradicating hazing worth coming together for?