Greek life is, for some, the epitome of the “true college experience.” With the help of the big screen, these organizations are stigmatized for malicious exclusivity, crazy parties, and, more so, intense hazing upon initiation.
Although hazing is often associated with Greek life, it is not exclusive to the media-born, power-hungry frat star. Hazing exists in sports teams, clubs, honors societies, and any organization that requires recruitment.
There have been stories of naked laps around the football field and toxic body-shaming rituals, but how true are these practices? At West Chester University, they’re not.
This past Monday kicked off the University’s annual Hazing Prevention Week. With events held each day in Sykes Student Union, students united to understand the dangers of hazing.
Although mainly sponsored by Greek organizations, these events were open to the entire student body.
On Tuesday, Sept. 22, a free luncheon allowed students to brainstorm effective ways to change campus culture in the hopes of eliminating the potential for hazing.
On Wednesday, Sept. 23, the event DUBC TALKS provided knowledgeable speakers, who granted insight about hazing culture.
To wrap up the week, the Student Activities Council sponsored a movie-night presentation of HAZE, a documentary regarding the realities of the practice. Students were then able to make a pledge against hazing by signing an Anti-Hazing banner on display in the lobby of Sykes.
Following the pledge, a visit from school mascot Rammy brought a sense of unity to the participants, which is something that hazing does not achieve.
The brothers and sisters of West Chester University had a lot to say about hazing prevention. Garret Mayhart, a junior member of Phi Gamma Delta, spoke out about the dangers of the practice.
“Phi Gamma Delta has a zero tolerance policy for hazing,” said Mayhart. “It creates dangerous and hostile situations between new members and current brothers of the fraternity. Greek life at West Chester University is working to abolish hazing on all college campuses, starting first with our own.”
Alyssa Bost, a junior member of Alpha Sigma Tau, expressed a similar opinion.
“Like most Greek organizations, AST is foremost interested in forming bonds of friendship, and helping our community,” said Bost. “Hazing doesn’t promote either of those goals.”
The goal of Hazing Prevention Week is to help students define and identify hazing, as well as to encourage them to speak up about the issue. It is known that hazing is prevalent on college campuses. Students often comply with hazing because they feel as though they have to. Despite this, there are many alternatives to member initiation that stray away from hazing rituals.
“We have a new member program that focuses on sisterhood and education about the sorority, and something we stress is our zero tolerance for hazing,” said Hailey Lawler, a junior member of Zeta Tau Alpha.
The responses from Greek organizations were all consistent: hazing is not something taken lightly at West Chester University.
Student athletes agreed. Ben Smith, a sophomore member of the football team, acknowledged the counterproductive nature of hazing.
“In order to create a healthy team environment, you have to develop trust between each player,” said Smith. “Hazing diminishes this trust and can hurt the team as a whole.”
Hazing Prevention Week was seen as successful in unifying students toward one cause.
The week is a national endeavor implemented by hazingprevention.org, an organization devoted to eradicating the practice. Traditionally, the event occurs the last week of September.
However, the organization encourages universities to schedule the week at their own convenience. The events and sessions are designed to give valuable tips for speaking out against hazing and stopping it, but more so focus on one goal: preventing it from happening in the first place.
The week concluded on Friday, Sept. 25 when students participated in Glow Zumba and other LED Games at Sykes After Dark.
Throughout the week, students of West Chester University made it clear that they say no to hazing.
Anne Subach is a first-year student majoring in marketing. She can be reached at AS842689@wcupa.edu.