Panel discussion recognizes National Hazing Week

Nikki Wee

During his first year of high school, John Jacobson took part in the hazing ritual known as the Freshman Roll.

Each year seniors would choose first-year students, stand above them, and yell at them as they rolled down the soccer field.

“I felt a little degraded, but I knew that it was tradition,” said Jacobson, a first-year mortuary science student . “It was meant to be degrading, but it was nice to feel like I was a part of the group. It felt good to get it done with.”

Hazing, any action taken or situation created intentionally to produce mental or physical embarrassment, harassment or ridicule, has become a growing issue among high schools and college campuses across the nation.

From 1838 to 1969, 35 hazing-related deaths were documented, said Chad Ellsworth, coordinator for the Student Activities Office. That number rose to 210 between 1970 and 2001.

Because of this, schools are taking preventive action and offering severe consequences for taking part in hazing rituals. To recognize National Hazing Week, the University hosted a panel discussion Thursday to talk about current efforts and strategies dealing with hazing on campus.

Ellsworth organized the event after taking part in the National Hazing Symposium at Purdue University.

“This campus has been extremely fortunate in that we haven’t had any incidence to my knowledge of high-profile events,” Ellsworth said. “Nationally, it’s become a big concern.”

Jacobson said he has noticed incidences of hazing here on campus, but nothing extreme. He said the University should monitor hazing at a distance.

“They should let it go on its way,” he said. “If it gets too extreme, that’s where they should step in.”

Ellsworth said the University is not necessarily looking to add policies.

One of the topics discussed at the panel was setting up partnerships and preventive programs.

“Because of the vast number of people that can be affected, it’s good to pull together all our resources,” said Anissa Lightner, who works in academic counseling for Intercollegiate Athletics.

A topic brought up at the panel was that groups doing positive activities together can become closer.

Lightner said the rowing team went out last week to help an elderly couple by scraping and repainting their house.

“I think that positive activities like that can help teams bond together,” Lightner said.

Mandi Watkins, program director for the Student Activities Office, said it is important to discuss hazing.

“If you continue to hide it and pretend that it’s not there, you’ll never know what’s behind those closed doors,” Watkins said.