Though hazing is a harsh reality at other universities, administrators are taking steps to prevent students from undergoing cruelty from peers.
“We know that it does [exist],” said Jayne Appley, program coordinator of student activities since 2009. “We’ve definitely had cases come up since I’ve been here.”
Appley works with all 35 diverse sororities and fraternities on campus, which encompasses approximately 1,000 students.
“Hazing is something that every campus struggles with and works with their students on to make sure everyone knows what it is,” Appley said.
According to the student code of conduct, hazing is referred to as “any act that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a person, embarrasses, frightens, or degrades a person or that destroys or removes public or private property, for the purpose of initiation, admission into, or affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership, in a group, organization or team.”
Some of the most brutal college hazing rituals that have been reported throughout the country include being raped by a Sharpie marker, pouring boiling hot water on people’s backs, boob ranking, performing the “elephant walk,” water overdoses, extreme amounts of alcohol intake, public body-critiquing, exercises in feces and urine and, unfortunately, many more.
Hazing doesn’t stop at physical abuse, though. Mental abuse is also present, which makes it hard for students to point out exactly what is considered hazing.
“I would take [hazing] as like a right of passage,” freshman kinesiology major James Custer said. Custer plans to rush this year.
Appley, who was in a sorority during her college career, said, “The thing with hazing is that a lot of times people want to be part of the group so badly, that they overlook the fact that they’re maybe being made to feel like less of a person or demeaned in some way.”
Students often justify hazing practices by thinking, “everyone else went through this, so maybe it is OK,” Appley added.
“It’s a cycle,” Custer said. “The seniors doing the hazing are power hungry and finally get the chance to do the hazing rather than being hazed.”
Every Greek organization has a non-hazing statement included in its national or international bylaws, which ultimately forms three different levels of accountability for acts of hazing.
“These statements help with the prevention of hazing, since chapters recognize that if they make the choice to engage in hazing, they’re violating organizational policy, university policy and state law,” Appley said.
Last year, although Appley was unable to go in-depth about the situation, there was a case of hazing at Temple where student activities had to refer those involved to Campus Safety Services where the case was investigated.
Sometimes a case will make its way to the city court, or even the state level, depending on its severity.
From sororities and fraternities to football teams and marching bands, hazing can be seen within any group.
“There’s been a lot of research on hazing, and it’s a really weird phenomenon because it exists in so many different pockets of societies,” Appley said. “So really whenever there’s a group setting, hazing could exist.”
During the past five years, student activities has joined forces with the sport and recreation office to hold a hazing prevention week every fall semester, during the midst of rush and football season.
Hazing Prevention Week began yesterday and will end on Sept. 16.
“We try to mix it up every year because we want it to be engaging enough that the students will actually listen and get something out of it that they’re able to retain and to use in their own experiences,” Appley said.
This week will feature a few educational and interactive workshops for sororities and fraternities to implement into their new member process.
“Instead of hazing there should be mandatory bonding activities for new members,” said Emma Mangano, junior accounting major and member of Delta Phi Epsilon.
“Say Something” workshops will be administered this year by Health Education and Awareness Resource Team, helping to promote bystander intervention.
Instead of designing anti-hazing posters like in years past, Appley said they are ending the week with a “new, fun competition.” Every Greek organization will design a cup with something about hazing education or hazing prevention, and the most popular cup design will be printed on 1,000 cups for each student.
With hopes of deterring hazing from happening at Temple, Appley makes herself known and available to students who have questions or need to report issues.
“I had a really great college experience in my sorority. It led me to my job today, and I was fortunate enough not ever be wrapped up in something like [hazing],” Appley said.
The media has latched onto the idea of hazing, which has been around for decades, in sororities and fraternities. Hazing has changed so much and looks so much more different than it did in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Appley said, but the media has “taken what used to be the case and perpetuated the fear that it’s still something.”
It is important to be aware that hazing does still exist, but it is also important to understand that it doesn’t always happen.
“The big thing is that for people who are interested in joining a fraternity or sorority, that they should not let the idea of being hazed be something that deters them,” Appley said. “It doesn’t happen in most of our organizations, and if they’re joining an organization and see that it’s happening, then there are so many routes to be able to end it.”
Lauren Hertzler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.