Event shines light on hazing practices at the U

Caitlin Cornelius

Stories of Greek hazing incidents always seem to make headlines, but as far as Chad Ellsworth, coordinator at the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life, is concerned, it’s just as prevalent in other student organizations.

As the University observes National Hazing Prevention Week, it’s an important concept to keep in mind, Ellsworth said.

Fraternities, sororities, military organizations, marching bands and athletics are all organizations that can fall victim to hazing, Ellsworth said.

“It’s important to make sure those negative experiences don’t creep in,” he said.

Jerry Rinehart, vice provost of student affairs, said the University is aware that hazing-like activities occur.

And showing students alternatives to hazing is essential, Rinehart said.

Greeks are often the first to deny hazing-type activities within their system.

Alexandra Harkness, vice president of public relations for the Panhellenic Council, said that although the initiation activities within sororities are private, there is no sort of hazing activity or singling out of any one group of individuals.

“The ‘U’s’ policies are really strict about what we can and can’t do in our initiations,” Harkness said.

It’s important to demonstrate other equally effective ways to integrate newcomers, Ellsworth said.

Student Unions and Activities is sponsoring a “skillshop” today from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Coffman Union to encourage all students to build positive traditions.

There are also inflatable activities and games at the Coffman front plaza to showcase positive teambuilding activities hosted by the sponsoring organizations.

Not just the greeks

“The band is an area where, when new people come in, new people are singled out for special things they have to do,” Rinehart said.

The week prior to homecoming is the marching band’s annual “stooge week.” Molly Watters, drum major for the marching band said the traditional event consists of, “tasks given by veteran members to new members.”

“It’s unfortunate from our perspective that it’s called ‘stooge week’ because stooge doesn’t have a very good connotation,” said Rinehart.

“Whenever you single out people because of their status as new, it has the potential to become hazing,” he said.

The University met with the band to ensure all activities meet anti-hazing standards.

Watters said the tasks during “stooge week” are educational in nature and include activities such as University trivia.

This year’s anti-hazing activities follow a hazing incident with the FarmHouse fraternity in which new members were singled out and publicly humiliated in March 2006.

The University suspended the fraternity until spring 2007 and required all members be interviewed for re-admittance into the organization.