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Hazing Prevention Center

A Worthy Cause

The Hazing Prevention Center at Medaille College is dedicated to raising awareness regarding an issue institutionalized in society. Hazing, in my opinion organized bullying, has long been present in our schools and locker rooms. Kids today, like generations before them, expect it to happen.

Launched October 11, 2011, the Hazing Prevention Center stands as an outpost on a frontier stained with terror. In its’ first year, under the direction of Student President Rocco Zambito, Jr., the center mounted an all-out effort to end the abuse. Located on the website for Medaille’s Sport Management (SPM) Program, the endeavor began its’ battle with relevant articles prepared by Rocco and other Medaille students.

For 2012-2013, with Rocco in law school, Michael Repertorio was named student president. Not surprisingly, Michael did a great job in helping the center grow.

The next year, Jenna Tuttolomondo joined the team – and contributed passionate and thoughtful articles. Her interest and insight were assets throughout. Andrew Distefano became president upon Jenna’s graduation – and continued the tradition of excellence.

Austin Bobeck served as president for 2015-16. His contributions were heartfelt and informative.

A special thanks to Dr. Richard L. Jacob, director of the Sport Management Program. His planning and input made our goal a reality.

David B. Lukow, Esq.

Faculty Advisor

2016-17

2015-16

New President Discusses Alternatives

Hazing, as we know, has been around for a long time. We’ve all heard the excuses, the “we were just trying to build team bonding” or “It’s tradition, they have been doing it forever, we just wanted to carry it on.”  Whatever their actions are they will always try and justify it.

Some hazing events stem from tradition.  Just because it has been a tradition in your school or group isn’t a reason to cause harm, injury or even death to an individual. In order to prevent this from happening, try to start a new tradition that doesn’t cause harm to the people involved. For example, have the incoming people put on a talent show for you. It’s cheap and fun entertainment.

Next is alcohol-related hazing, which has caused many deaths.  It’s sad to see so many young lost by this senseless “initiation.”  Just because your body can handle it doesn’t mean somebody else can.  By constantly feeding the individual alcohol you are putting his/her life in your hands and should be held accountable for anything that happens.  One way to prevent this is pick a leader, someone everyone looks up to. This leader should responsible, positive and always care about the safety of members.

Also, we’ve had a number of sports-hazing instances. This is where team veterans or leaders haze the younger or new members of a team. This one has also been taken to extremes. If you want to build team chemistry, try to do less harmful things. Hurting someone doesn’t really help build team chemistry.

One of my favorites is the battle of the bands. This is when you get into a group of 3-4 people and pick who is the singer, guitar player, and drummer. After that you pick a song. When that is a done you have to do your best lip sync performance, which should be judged by either the captain or one of the coaches. There are alternatives to hazing. All it takes is a few brave people who want a change for the better.

-Austin Bobeck, Student President

2014-2015

 

The Perfect Message

As reported by the Courier-Journal, the Western Kentucky University has caught wind of hazing occurring within their conference championship level swimming and diving programs. Their men’s team won a Conference USA championship last season, and the women’s team finished second. Also, a member of the women’s team was an Olympic athlete at the Summer Olympics winning a medal respectively. It was discovered there was sexual assault, underage drinking, as well as including prospective student athletes not yet enrolled. What they did about these allegations is the perfect and strongest message to have been sent on the issue.

Western Kentucky has decided to suspend both their swimming and diving teams for the next five seasons. It seemed based off of the president’s response that this wasn’t the first time this has happened, as he is quoted in saying that the program has had a “culture of misconduct.” The only qualm I have with him is how he could allow it to reach this point? Maybe if he had taken action sooner it would never have reached the point where a five-year suspension was necessary. It could serve as a blessing in disguise. Now, all athletic departments across the country know the new standard of punishment for their respective programs. This penalty has caused Western Kentucky to not only lose their coaches and next five seasons of competition, but it will affect them for decades as they cannot pull in any new recruits with scholarships for the years following the suspension. The college has decided to respect the scholarships for all the current athletes as long as they are in good academic standing.

In my personal opinion, this was a long overdue punishment for a program. It’s a shame it had to happen to a program that was so small in popularity and notice amongst the national media. If it had been a football or basketball team, I think it would have been a headliner on SportCenter, and media around the country would have been discussing it for years like the SMU scandal. These kids needed to learn somehow that no matter what you do for the school or how high you are in social status, you can be punished. This was completely justifiable and I commend Western Kentucky officials in knocking this hazing problem completely out of their university forever.

Andrew DiStefano – President of the Hazing Prevention Center

http://www.courier-journal.com/story/sports/college/kentuckiana/2015/04/14/wku-suspends-swimming-and-diving-program-5-years/25757251/

 

 

College Baseball Team’s Season Suspended

St. Olaf College in Minnesota has cancelled its baseball season for 2015. This is a result of hazing being performed not only outside of the campus, but also at the campus itself. Younger baseball players were made to serve the older players in rituals that were limited in explanation. The only known hazing was what occurred on the campus grounds, which included serving the older players food at the cafeteria as well as possible under-age drinking. Not only did they commit these acts, but they knew what they were doing was wrong. The college also confirmed that the players attempted to cover up the situation by posting about the acts on the app, Yik Yak. To their dismay, the college still uncovered this ruse.

I commend St. Olaf officials for ending the baseball season after these acts were committed. It’s a shame that in a society that prides itself on equality and doing the right thing, these things occur. Adulthood evidently is not something these children are ready for. Hazing is a serious issue in college sports, and no matter how often we continue to implement minor penalties, teams still think they can get away with it. Ending a whole season for hazing is the best first step to trying to stop this problem. Taking away a full season is a harsh penalty, and some may say hyperbolic. However, it seems to be the only way to stop hazing at the collegiate and high school levels. Sports are meant to be a fun event and activity for people to do to take up their discretionary time, not to give them nightmares and rue their involvement. With a player being sent to the hospital, it just proves how deadly and dangerous hazing is.

Hopefully, these children will realize what they have done, and become adults. They realized what they had been doing was not tolerated by the university or society, but still continued. Consequences are necessary, and in this case were completely justified.

-Andrew DiStefano / Hazing Prevention Center President

http://www.foxsports.com/other/story/college-baseball-hazing-minnesota-college-cancels-032815

 

 

 

George Najjar Reinstated?

If you do not know who George Najjar is, here is the background. He was the head coach of a high school football team in Sayreville, New Jersey, that has had multiple state championships during his tenure. He was a physical education teacher at the Sayreville school district, and compiled quite the resume as their coach and teacher. However, last fall the football team’s season was suspended due to a major hazing scandal that occurred at the school. He was suspended in October with pay, as well as his assistants were, too. That is outrageous in the first place, after it being confirmed now that the hazing did occur. Currently, there are lawsuits being filed by the victims against the Borough of Sayreville and Sayreville Public Schools for millions of dollars. What the district has done now is even more appalling.

Najjar has been reinstated effective immediately into the Sayreville School District, a district that is being sued and has allowed hazing to occur for decades. For a punishment, they have demoted him to the elementary school and taken away his tenure in terms of seniority. This is simply not enough! How can this be acceptable? The coach allowed hazing to occur and he is let right back in. He still works with students, children that he did not supervise and keep safe. Sexual assault and hazing incidents must be taken much more seriously at the high school level, and of course across the board. What this high school has done is given a man a $20,000 pay cut, and a demotion. That is not enough. This man should have been suspended WITHOUT pay, and then if the investigation revealed he did not do his job protecting these kids, he should have been FIRED.

There is no place for hazing or sexual assault in sports, at any level. Hazing is cowardly and ignorant by all teams and players who believe in it. Districts and campuses around the world need to change their protocols and not allow these things to occur, and especially not be allowed to return the perpetrator to his job.

Andrew DiStefano / Hazing Prevention Center President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew Outlines Mission

As the new President of the Hazing Prevention Center, I feel it is my responsibility to give my personal beliefs on the matter. Hazing is a ritual I consider a disease. It spreads like wildfire all across the nation from high schools to colleges, all the way up to professional workplaces. It is of major concern to me, and many others. The reason I took this position was my interest in stopping hazing at all costs, as it is the mission of the Hazing Prevention Center to do this. The first aspect people need to realize is, it is okay to not participate in these acts. Just because you are a freshman on the local basketball team does not mean you must succumb to the barbaric treatment that upperclassmen may push onto you. It is not your responsibility to stand by and take the abuse. Just because we are so desensitized to the subject, does not mean we should turn our backs to it and pretend it’s not happening. Coaches and respected adults in these situations should take control and do their job, which is foremost to protect children and young adults under their supervision. They are supposed to help these people grow in a safe environment. Victims must not be afraid to stand up for themselves, or tell the proper adults who can help with these problems.

How do I intend on helping to end this pandemic?

We must first open a free anonymous line of communication from us to the people whom are being affected. There needs to be a systematic approach that can be taken by each campus to allow for students to divulge this information anonymously, with no fear of retribution. This is a very large and widespread goal, but doing it at just a few local campuses can make a huge difference in WNY.

Secondly, the Hazing Prevention Center needs to grow. The use of social media, can increase the notoriety around the topic, and help spread the information regarding hazing.

I hope to continue on the legacy of the presidents before me, in an attempt to spread the word about hazing prevention and bullying protection. We will not stand by and ignore the disease that is plaguing our campuses and schools.

Andrew DiStefano / Student President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distefano Takes Reigns of Hazing Center

Andrew Distefano is the new president of Medaille’s Hazing Prevention Center. A Sport Management major from Eden, New York, Andrew takes over for Jenna Tuttolomondo, who graduated in December.

Andrew’s knowledge of sports, coupled with his communication skills, should make him an excellent addition to the HPC.

-Dave Lukow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tragedy Hits Home

A very touching article was posted on my Facebook News feed, titled, “WVU Freshman from WNY dies after incident at Frat house.” Although this is recent and a touchy article to write a blog on, I feel as if it is very important to take a message from this young death. Being a Western New York native myself, I did not personally know Nolan Burch.

Nolan Burch was a 2014 Canisius High School graduate, who was attending West Virginia University. He excelled in Business and Economics. Burch was a pre-Sport Management major (I am also a Sports Management major). On Wednesday, November 12th, Burch was found unconscious at the Kappa Sigma house at WVU. Later in the week, another young life was lost to an alcohol-related death. I am very familiar with losing someone very close; my best friend had passed away from an alcohol-related death last year on September 29th.

Most assumed Burch’s alcohol-related death was tied into pledging for the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. On my newsfeed (on the social networking site), I had seen several people rant about hazing. Burch’s death was not confirmed to be a hazing incident.

Kappa Sigma’s director of chapter services had stated, “Kappa Sigma is still investigating the circumstances surround the event,” according to the WGRZ.com article. Currently, all Greek activities are temporarily suspended; possibly to the end of the fall semester.

This was not the only Greek-involved incident that’s taken place on WVU‘s campus. Prior to this incident, there was a disturbance between members of another fraternity, which was not named in the article.

In the news video, Tori Moneyhun, WVA Student Government Associate Greek Life Director, stated, “I think it starts with us and we have to take the initiative and change this culture for this whole school.” I could not agree more with Moneyhun.

Condolences to the Burch family as they fight through this hardship

Jenna Tuttolomondo, Student President

 

 

 

LA Officials Take Stand

“Hazing in all forms is not to be taken lightly. Recent history has shown that hazing can constitute a criminal act. In some cases, hazing may also include other acts, such as physical assault or battery, sexual assault or battery, or sexual harassment, which could lead to criminal consequences and student discipline”. This statement is straight from the article, “LAUSD warns coaches on hazing” in the Los Angeles Times, which was published on October 3rd, 2014 by Eric Sondheimer. I feel Sondheimer summed the issue of hazing in today’s society very well. Compared to the various articles I have reviewed and written a response for, this article actually shows actions that will prevent hazing instead of telling what hazing incident has happened.

The Los Angeles Unified School District had sent an email to all coaches explaining that they are to educate their athletes on hazing, especially the upperclassmen. This email also had stated that if a hazing incident were to happen, not only the students involved would be punished, but the coach will suffer the consequences as well. No excuses would be accepted from the coach’s standpoint; they are fully responsible for the supervision of their athletes. If a coach had even slight suspicions the act of hazing was happening within their team, they are to tell a school administrator. This is a zero tolerance approach to hazing.

I believe this is an excellent approach from the LAUSD. There is not enough hazing prevention in high schools, universities, and professional institutions nowadays. Coaches emphasizing the severity of hazing is crucial. I believe leaving them responsible for any misbehavior of their team is also a valuable lesson. If they educate their athletes well enough and discuss the negative consequences of a hazing action, the action itself will most likely not be taken. Coaches are in a leadership position; they are there to not only educate their team on and off the field or court for a specific sport, but they are also to teach discipline.

Jenna Tuttolomondo, Student President

Ohio State Cans Band Director

 

 

 

When most people think of hazing, they think of sororities, fraternities, and collegiate sports teams. This is not the case for Ohio State University.

I tend to search the New York Times for a variety of hazing articles; the majority of the hazing lies within the above-mentioned groups. The title of the article listed most recent in the New York Times hazing category caught my attention, “Ohio State Fires Marching Band Director after Finding Tradition of Sexual Hazing”. The report describes “a culture of harassment and alcohol abuse.”

The director of the Ohio State marching band, Jon Waters, did have a strong sense of what was occurring and did little to stop it. A clear description of the hazing acts was in the article; new members of the band would walk down the aisle of the bus, reenacting sexual performances, as their peers would take off their clothes. After taking a march to gain a sort of appreciation from other band members, the victims would march on the football field in their underwear. One of the sexual imitations involved a sister and brother.

Nicknames were also given to members after they had completed their “walk of shame.” As Michael V. Drake, Ohio State University president, stated, “Even one instance of harassment or hazing or assault is one too many.”

Personally, I could not agree more with Drake. Waters explained he had tried to reform this culture of hazing. He claimed he had little time to do so because he was director for less than two years, according to the article.

My input on this incident is that if Mr. Waters knew hazing was occurring, he should have taken extreme measures to stop it, such as suspensions or permanent expulsion from the marching band. Ohio State, along with many other colleges, gains much attention from their athletic department. They also provide entertainment, from the bands leading various teams on the court or field. In other words, the band is just as important as the sports team. The marching band contributes to making “game day experience” fun and entertaining. If universities aren’t taking hazing lightly, Waters should have taken extreme measures to prevent it on his team of band members. Hazing is not something that should be taken lightly. Two years is too long to have these actions still continuing. I agree with Ohio State University for firing Jon Waters.

Jenna Tuttolomondo

Student President

Jenna’s Back

 

 

 

 

 

The Hazing Prevention Center (HPC) is proud to announce Jenna Tuttolomondo will return as student-president for the 2014-15 academic year.

Jenna joined the HPC in 2013, and was an asset throughout the year. We look forward to her insight.

-Dave Lukow

2013-2014

Texas Targets Hazing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wanda Mercer has heard enough.

The associate vice chancellor for student affairs for the University of Texas, Mercer backs the May launch of a task force deigned to reduce hazing and binge drinking.

“Frankly, they (university officials) were concerned for student safety and wanted to know if the UT system is doing everything it could to protect its students,” Mercer said.

According to a national survey, more than 50 percent of students belonging to college clubs, teams, or organizations endangered themselves to gain acceptance.

“In almost every case, it’s when a student is trying to become a member of a group,” Mercer said.

Along with the task force, UT must have a zero tolerance policy relevant to hazing. Said policy could bring legal action and suspensions.

Fraternity Eliminates Pledging

Recently, on March 10th, one of the largest fraternities in the United States, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, said they will no longer allow pledging as a process for undergraduates to participate in while joining the organization and will welcome those who are willing to join with open arms. This was a solution for a long period of injuries and deaths related to the pledging procedure. As stated directly in the New York Times article, “While pledging is not meant to be synonymous with hazing, which is illegal, in practice one often leads to the other”. In other words, the intention of pledging is not the illegal practice of hazing, but it ritual tradition that has been followed through multiple generations to build close relationships with those who are being welcomed into the fraternity brotherhood. To those who already are a part of the organization, it is a way of developing trust and loyalty with new members. Unfortunately, the foundation of developing trust and loyalty have led to too much negative behavior, such as lawsuits, negative publicity, and as stated previously, injuries and deaths amongst those who were willing to participate in the pledging act.

Josh Hartley, a junior at the University of Southern California, who is a fraternity member of Phi Gamma Delta, had mentioned how he truly felt about eliminating pledging in the article. He felt as if it takes a way the sense of commitment – when a pledge is being made, “the roots are planted”. Those who are most committed in the pledging process are most likely the most committed as a brother. Hartley had brought up another interesting point; without the pledge commitment, it turns the organization into a drinking club. There is an enormous amount of alcohol related injuries and death rate amongst college student as is. The real question that stands is that if it is really possible to completely eliminate the pledging process. Many alumni cherish this tradition, such as Hartley.

An example was brought to the reader’s attention in this article; in 2012, a freshman at Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s Arizona State University went missing after a night of drinking with his friends. He was found dead in the lake by the campus. Due to this incident, the fraternity was suspended. Another example mentioned was another freshman of the fraternity, from the University of Idaho, was found dead underneath a bridge after a Sigma Alpha Epsilon party.

I believe those incidents were described vaguely within this article. The one key aspect that could be questioned was if these two freshmen had been participating in a pledging act or participating in the consumption of alcohol.

Another interesting incident brought to my attention while reading this article was that there was another death of a Sigma Alpha Epsilon member, who was a sophomore at Cornell. This article was posted on March 11, 2014, but a correction to the article was made the following day, March 12, 2014, mentioning how the death of the fraternity member, George Desdunes, was not due to being a participant in a pledging act. He had actually passed away from a direct from of hazing, which involved “being bounded, blindfolded, and forced to drink”.

Although many people feel as if pledging is a horrid act to take a part in, is it really the pledging that is the main factor in lawsuits, injuries, and deaths of those who are making commitments to fraternities? Eliminating pledging does not necessarily mean eliminating alcohol consumption within a fraternity. Eliminating pledging also does not necessarily mean eliminating hazing within a fraternity. It may be a step in the right direction, but only time can tell…

Jenna Tuttolomondo

Student President

Jenna Revisits Incognito, Martin

This is the long overdue follow up to the Martin and Incognito situation, but I did say there would be one. Here it goes!

“Behind the Face Mask” is an article on the MMQB website written by Peter King, giving inside perspective to the incidents that actually occurred within the Miami Dolphins locker room. From an outside standpoint, most spectators know hazing is not to be taken lightly; but a small percentage believes it’s just an aspect that comes with the position. Hazing is considered conformity for athletes who participate in sports ranging from the high school level to the major leagues. It is accepted. According to former Dolphins offensive lineman, Lydon Murtha, “Playing football is a man’s job and if there’s any weak link, it gets weeded out.” Murtha opened the curtain to tell viewers of the occurrences that happened between left guard Richie Incognito and left tackle Jonathan Martin.

When Martin was drafted by the Miami Dolphins, multiple players commented on how he was quiet and didn’t seem to be finding his place on the team. A common act of rookies in the NFL is to purchase a dinner and open a bar tab for the position group they belong to. This is obviously an expensive thing to do, but has been a tradition for years. As stated in the article, Martin didn’t partake in this. Along with already having the nickname, “Big Weirdo,” on the team, given by Incognito, this act built more walls between Martin and his teammates. Another tradition the team has is the traditional “someone goes to sit down, everyone gets up” prank. Martin took this to heart when it happened to him. He was offended. Again, this distanced him from the Dolphins team.

Incognito had a leadership position on the team. He was the motivational speaker. From Murtha’s point of view, since Incognito worked side by side with Martin, he took him under his wing. When Martin was getting frustrated with the way he was playing, his teammate would pick him up. When Martin was not showing the effort he should have been putting in, Incognito “would give him the same crap as he would if he saw another Miami player not putting in effort.” If someone was not doing their part, Incognito was the teammate who would get in their face. He had no shame; he wanted what was best for his team. He was not single-handedly targeting Martin.

The coaches said to open Martin up and figure him out. According to Murtha, this is where Incognito ran into a problem. Incognito was the team’s comedian and he did not have a filter. He was very open with Martin, although his teammate did not reciprocate. There are various voicemails where Incognito used the n-word when referring to Martin. This clearly crossed the line, but Murtha pointed out that Martin would smile while having this type of talk within the locker room. Murtha also pointed out this is not just seen on the Miami Dolphins. This type of behavior and these bullying instances are seen on every team. To Murtha, “This is a game of high testosterone, with men hammering their bodies on a daily basis. You are taught to be an aggressive person…” If a football player happens to be a passive person, they barely make the cut at the NFL level. The game of football tests the concepts of survival of the fittest and masculinity. This situation between Incognito and Martin challenges these two concepts.

It is obvious both these men are quite talented. Physically, both these 300-pound men can compete at this level. Masculinity goes beyond physical features. Mental toughness is required as well, especially handling what is said and done in the locker room. Martin clearly did not meet these separate standards. Within the locker room, aside from what happens on and off the field, Martin felt he was bullied. All of his teammates, including Incognito, do not question or think what conversations and actions are acceptable because they are teammates and closely connected. Even if they felt offended by what was said or done, these athletes let it go. They want to be part of the team. If these standards were not met, they would be in Martin’s position. This is an aspect that defines the term over conformity.

Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin have and will suffer consequences due to this incident. Richie Incognito is now viewed as a racist person due to the media. An NFL team does not want a player that will bring negative attention to their franchise. Jonathan Martin, on the other hand, technically “broke the code” amongst his teammates. Solely because he had already proved to his former Miami teammates he was not willing to make the commitment to them. Other players will reject him because they don’t want their business brought to the media. No one wants to walk on eggshells. Martin did not handle this situation in the best of ways, especially since the Dolphins franchise had to deal with significant negative attention. Richie Incognito was doing what was considered normal and accepted while trying to break in his teammate, but, unfortunately, Jonathan Martin did not like how he went about it. Hazing cannot only make or break friendships, but professional careers as well.

Jenna Tuttolomondo

Student President

Hazing Costly For Cornell Coach

Hazing not only causes hatred among groups of people, but job losses as well. Cornell’s men’s lacrosse coach, Ben DeLuca, was dismissed several months after his team’s fall season was canceled. Mind you, Coach DeLuca was not only an alumnus of Cornell, but had coached the Big Red’s lacrosse team for more than ten years. In his career, he led the lacrosse team to the 2011 NCAA Quarterfinals and the NCAA Semifinals in 2013, according to a brief ABC News article. His coaching career was over.

This hazing incident was well publicized. After reviewing articles about this hazing act, I visited Cornell’s prevention website, which had gone into detail of what actually happened. According to the website, in September 2013, the Department of Athletics and Physical Education was given information about what was taking place within the men’s lacrosse community at Cornell.

Freshmen were being hazed by the upperclassmen. This is common among various collegiate sports. The young men were forced to do the upperclassmen’s chores and any other task they were told to do. I’m almost sure the upperclassmen thought nothing of this, because they were most likely put through the same thing when they were freshmen and new to the team. This is considered an over-conformity action. In other words, no one questions these actions because they’re accepted by those around them.

The older players also held events and team bonding parties that freshmen were required to attend, not always a negative aspect when welcoming people to a sports team … right?

At one of these gatherings, the underage freshmen were forced to partake in a “keg race.” This is a challenge requiring the consumption of large amounts of beer – in a quick fashion. The team finishing first wins.

Typical college drinking act, but the challenge gets even “better.” The teams were tied together in a circle by their belt buckle. Therefore, if one could not hold his alcohol, he would throw up in place and possibly on his teammate. Due to this drinking challenge, the team was temporarily suspended. And players were required to attend anti-hazing workshops.

Another result – the Big Red lost a successful coach.

-Jenna Tuttolomondo

Jenna Tackles Incognito

For any athlete, the what-happens-in-the-locker-room-stays-in-the-locker-room mentality is known. This carries throughout an athlete’s younger years to high school, to college, and possibly even to the big leagues. The extent of which hazing continues seems infinite. When someone hears the word hazing, they most likely assume it has to do with college sororities and fraternities, as well as collegiate sports teams… But what happens when a hazing incident takes place beyond college years, at the pro level? Well, America’s football nation knows only too well by the publicity and media attention gained by an incident that took place in the NFL’s Miami Dolphins’ locker room.

The concept of masculinity is well known throughout men’s sports. Clearly, within the locker room there are going to be things said that should not be repeated; but to what extent can something be said before it becomes too personal? To what extent can something be said before a friendship is at stake? Jonathan Martin, the left tackle for Miami, and Richie Incognito, the left guard, spent a great majority of their time with one another, on the field and off the field. Incognito had offended his teammate and friend by sending him multiple texts and by what was said in the locker room. Martin had enough… He was so bothered by what was said, he had decided to leave his team.

There are two sides people have to say about this situation; Martin has done the right thing and is becoming a leader for the anti-hazing movement, or he is a man and he needs to accept what was said and move on because it was “locker room” talk. Which view do you side with?

More information will be provided on this incident in the near future …

Jenna Tuttolomondo

Jenna Discusses Choice

As I mentioned before in my previous post, where does hazing stop? To which extent is it acceptable? To which extent is it too much?

Hazing to any extent is not acceptable. It is simply unethical. I have been reading various articles on hazing in college atmospheres. As a side note, to point out, anyone can watch the top ten countdowns of the best plays on ESPN after Sunday football games and Monday Night Football. You can listen to the top ten songs on the radio from whichever genre you want varying from station to station.

In both cases, for those who want to watch the top ten plays on ESPN or listen to one of their favorite songs on the radio in the top however many, it’s enjoyable. If these diehard fans and music lovers did not want to do either of these things, they have the choice not to. Having the choice to do what we want within legal limits is OK … right? It’s human rights!

But sororities and fraternities take “doing what they enjoy” to a whole new level. The titles of the articles I’ve been reading have all expressed the same message: top hazing incidents that have taken place within college campus. As I read, preventing hazing wasn’t even a thought. Students forcing others to do hideous activities is just cruel and unusual. Clearly, those who are victims of hazing within these groups have the choice to not be part of the numerous acts.

Just think though … who wouldn’t want to make the best of their college years, bonding with those around them? Who would think these acts to be accepted into sororities and fraternities would be life threatening and degrade a student’s own dignity?

Those demanding these acts have already gone through the pledging process and know everyone has limitations. What sick-minded people find it OK to make pledges do the “elephant walk” or “boob ranking?” Who would even want to watch these actions? To think those who’ve demanded pledges do various acts were the reason behind the death of an innocent human being is even more disheartening.

Acts such as drinking too much water, drinking too much alcohol, being suffocated and so on – these new people who want to be part of something “so great” and to bond with those who will influence their lives should not have to experience this. The leaders of fraternities and sororities should be an example of what to look forward building up to, not to be remembered in a negative matter. As long as these demands continue to happen, hazing will continue to increase and get worse. It seems with many leaders there is a blurred line to what is ethical and what is unethical.

As taught in grammar school, “treat others the way you want to be treated,” should be taught on college campuses as well, along with cases of various incidents that have happened within sororities and fraternities. Maybe it will ring a bell.

It’s worth trying anything at this point.

Jenna Tuttolomondo
Student President

Jenna Starts With Basics

 

HAZING – According to Wikipedia, hazing is “the practice of rituals and other activities involving harassment, abuse, or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group”. In other words, my own in fact, hazing can be simply categorized as bullying. Hazing is seen not only in student social interactions, such as sports teams and fraternities or sororities, but hazing also takes place in the military, where many are viewed as heroic figures.

Although leaders within these groups find it necessary to maintain tradition, there is no need for psychological and/or physical humiliation to go on. These individuals feel it is necessary to be degraded because they feel they’ll be accepted. The generation nowadays goes above and beyond to fit these standards.

Even though an individual is pledging and has a willingness to do so, this is still unacceptable behavior. There is a blurred line between what is OK and what is not. Hazing has little to no boundaries or limitations. Where will the line be drawn clear enough for people to understand this is not a proper action for acceptance into a new group?

-Jenna Tuttolomondo

Hazing – Another Form of Bullying

Hazing can be seen as a rite of passage for many different groups.  Sports teams, clubs, gangs, and high school freshmen are just a few to be mentioned.  It could involve one or more individuals that have decided to take part. It can be very unpleasant for many of those who are involved, while others seem to enjoy what they’re doing. Can we not consider this another form of bullying?

Individuals decide on how the process occurs and to whom they will haze. Many times it is passed down from generation to generation and “improved” upon in the eyes of the hazers over the years. Different ways are found to embarrass individuals, male or female. Every time they haze someone they are forcing some type of bullying on them. Some people will say they were willing to partake in the actions, but it still doesn’t make it right. Are they doing this for their father or for a friend (fraternity)? Is this their way of feeling welcomed? Parents should never be OK with these actions, even if they participated when they were young. To say “I lived through it” is a cliché. These kids are not the same as you. Each generation has changed and become more intense. Nobody should have to change themselves or participate in acts to prove themselves as “worthy.” With new technological advances over the years, such as video cameras on phones, these sorts of actions can follow them for the rest of their lives.

Younger generations learn from what they see on television, the Internet, or social media. Different media outlets show how professional athletes haze rookies, by cutting blotches into their hair, tying them up, or throwing them into a freezing tub of ice. “Monkey see monkey do,” which makes kids think it is OK for them to do it, but when it does happen it reenacts as some form of bullying. There should not be a fine line drawn into the sand, which places bullying and hazing on different sides. They are the same thing and it needs to be stopped! Why keep hurting others, including their self-esteem? It’s not pleasant and hazing definitely impacts the fight against bullying! To hear that many schools and clubs have banned hazing is a start, but the proof is in the pudding. It’s becoming an epidemic!

Jeremy Oshirak

Jenna Joins Hazing Center

The Hazing Prevention Center has a new co-president.

Jenna Tuttolomondo, a junior at Medaille, will be sharing duties with returning co-president, Mike Repertorio.

Majoring in Sport Management, Jenna expressed immediate interest in the opening.

Having served as her instructor, I know she’ll bring competence, dedication and enthusiasm to the position.

I’m happy having her on the team.

Dave Lukow

2012-2013

National Organization Battles Hazing

HazingPrevention.Org is having an impact.

A national organization dedicated to preventing hazing at colleges and universities, the group has done much to fulfill its’ mission. Among the achievements are the establishment of National Hazing Prevention Week and the Novak Institute for Hazing Prevention.

Founded in 2007, the organization also hosts an increasing number of webinars and provides data showing the extent of the problem.

Charles Hall is executive director of HazingPrevention.Org, which is located in LaGrange, Georgia.

For more information, go to: www.hazingprevention.org

D.C. Lawyer Focuses on Hazing

Hazing victims can have questions.

Douglas E. Fierberg provides answers.

An attorney with Bode & Grenier LLP, a Washington, D.C. law firm, Fierberg specializes in fraternity death and rape, hazing injury and death, wrongful death, serious personal injury and sexual assault as well as other civil and business areas.

He’s been lead counsel for victims of hazing and sexual assault in cases across the U.S. The former president of the National Advisory Board of the National Crime Victim Bar Association (NCVBA), Fierberg still serves on the organization’s board. Dedicated to the rights of crime victims, the NCVBA aims to obtain compensation for, and protect the interests of, those harmed by illegal acts.

Fierberg is a founder and chairperson for the national litigation association, Schools: Violence, Misconduct, and Safety, which is authorized by the American Association for Justice. Admitted in the federal, district and circuit courts in Maryland and the District of Columbia, he has represented plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases in several states, including Alabama, California, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Colorado, Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee, Indiana, Texas, Mississippi and Nevada.

Prominent Sorority Bans Hazing

The Zeta Beta Sorority has a clear stance on hazing.

Formed in 1920, the organization employs a membership policy that forbids the initiation-related practice. All prospective members are told hazing is against Zeta’s rules and that all hazing or associated attempts should be reported to relevant authorities.

Zeta’s president has power to discipline any members not adhering to written intake policies or violating the hazing ban. Disciplinary measures include suspension and the setting of conditions for reinstatement.

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. cooperates with all university and governmental entities in hazing investigations.

For more information, go to: http://www.zphib1920.org

Band Members Charged in Hazing Death

Florida prosecutors are charging 12 former members of the Florida A&M University band with manslaughter. The charges come more than one year after a drum major, Robert Champion, died in a hazing incident.

Ten band members were charged with felony hazing in May 2012, but prosecutors said March 4 they are upping the charges to manslaughter. Two other defendants were also charged with manslaughter.

Champion, 26, died in Orlando after collapsing while allegedly being beaten during a hazing ritual in November 2011. The incident reportedly occurred on a bus following the annual Florida A&M – Bethune Cookman football game.

According to officials, Champion, who had numerous bruises, died of internal bleeding.

Florida A&M hired Bryan F. Smith as its anti-hazing administrator in January.

Anti-Hazing Law

Where’s the Continuity?

Earlier, we looked at our own responsibility to prevent hazing. I stated that the attitude people take (“It will never happen here…”) and the different levels of understanding the problem is what allows it to continue to happen. And while there is a certain personal responsibility to be taken in order to prevent hazing, there is another aspect to consider… the law.

As hazing has increased over the past 20 years, so have the laws pertaining to hazing. Since 1990, the states that have anti- hazing laws have increased from 20 to 44 states. In 41 states, it is also now illegal to fail to report a hazing incident. Given the increase in laws pertaining to the subject, some may say that progress is being made.

However, we can’t forget that six states don’t view hazing as a crime, and even more so, nine states don’t view a failure to report a hazing incident as illegal. Where is the continuity? To better describe my point, I look to a program from Animal Planet, Finding Bigfoot. The show is based around a group of four researchers who are trying to prove the existence of Bigfoot. Three of the group members believe, unequivocally, that Bigfoot exists, while the fourth member, the skeptic, is searching for empirical evidence to prove the creature’s existence.

So what does this have to do with hazing law? Well, in the show, there is no congruence as to whether the creature exists, simply, because no one has actually “seen” it. But hazing is not like Bigfoot. We “have” seen hazing, we “have” seen how dangerous that behavior can be. And if we have empirical proof that hazing is real and that it is a problem, why isn’t there consistency in the laws from state to state? How can you expect to deter something if we can’t all agree this is an illegal behavior?

Season finale – 50 states need anti-hazing laws- Bigfoot (hazing) was found years ago, why are we still acting like we’re not sure?

-Mike Repertorio, Student President

Hazing Incident Brings Lawsuit, Charges

Hazing is once again on front pages.

The family of a high school freshman in Illinois is suing Maine Township High School District 207 over a hazing incident that happened in September. According to the claim, school officials sanctioned the activity.

“I thought my son would be safe at school,” said the unidentified mother of the boy on November 19. “You think when you drop off your son, it’s a safe place to be. But I feel like the coaches should have kept him safe on the soccer field, and they didn’t do that.”

Additionally, the mother says the hazing – along with the school’s failure to address it – violates Illinois anti-bullying laws.

The lawsuit alleges that the boy, 14, and at least two other students, were sexually assaulted during soccer practice. It adds that assaults of this nature take place whenever new players are promoted to the varsity and have been going on for several years. The suit maintains the school’s principal knew, or should have known, about the initiation ritual, and that two soccer coaches witnessed and permitted the attacks.

Officials for the school district said ten students are facing disciplinary action, two soccer coaches have been reassigned, and three other coaches, none school employees, have been fired.

Police in Des Plaines, Illinois, announced that six students have been petitioned to juvenile court, each charged with battery and hazing.

“We see this not just as a local issue, but this is a national issue,” said Antonio Romanucci, the attorney for the plaintiffs. “We hope to springboard what happened here into making significant policy change all over the country.”

When you see the Pros Doing it …

It’s become somewhat of a tradition that every year in Major League Baseball, a team’s rookies endure hazing. Most rookies wind up dressing up in embarrassing costumes for a laughable photo shoot. But it isn’t just in baseball where these actions are seen. You can find rookie hazing in all four major league sports. Having a player pick up the tab, redecorating their hotel room, shaving their head, or giving them Disney backpacks to carry around – these are just some of the rites of initiation newcomers go through. For the most part, these actions are seen or assumed to be nothing more than harmless pranks. Usually they’re taken in jest, something to provide a laugh for teammates and fans alike. And while this may be true, it may also be true that people don’t really see it as a problem in this capacity.

But doesn’t this constitute hazing? “Hazing” refers to any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate. (StopHazing.org)

According to this definition, one could claim that yes, this is still hazing, whether or not the players are willing participants. So, while this behavior may be legal under league rules, what kind of example does it set for younger generations? When rookie hazing is portrayed as harmless pranks, it sends the message that it is OK to do. So what can we do when our sport idols, those we look up to, set this type of example?

This was a difficult piece to work on because we know that these traditional pranks generally intend no harm. You see the pictures of the rookies dressed up in Wizard of Oz garb or whatever, and you can’t help but give a little chuckle. You can see the harmless pranks as a sign of team camaraderie, something enthralled in the fabric of the game. So, is it possible that there is some type of middle ground between the dangers of hazing and an “anything goes mentality?” If so, how can we find that balance to preserve the “team dynamic?” If not, how can we prevent this behavior to create a safer environment for people to live in?

-Mike Repertorio

Student President

When it Hits Home

So many people, about so many different things, can often be heard saying, “It won’t happen to me,” or “It’d never happen in my school.” But for some, that perception was recently shattered. With something like this though, it is hard to imagine that it is still happening. The violence that manifests itself as hazing. And I think it’s that “It will never happen to me” nonsense that allows it to keep happening. If we don’t accept that this is a problem, and one that could very well affect us, we are in no position to try and stop it. And since we have yet to, events like this one are “allowed” ( I use that term to refer to a responsibility rather than a law) to happen.

SUNY Geneseo is the most recent of local  colleges or universities to be affected. The situation caused the cancellation of the volleyball program’s entire season. Reports show that freshman from the volleyball team were blindfolded, handcuffed and forced to drink shots of vodka during an initiation party. One 18- year old student suffered injuries including a chipped tooth from falling as well as alcohol poisoning. Those arrested were charged with hazing and unlawful dealing with a child for serving alcohol to minors. How is it that we can allow things like this to continue to occur in our society?

That is what I intend to find out this year.

Our former president, Rocco Zambito Jr. provided us with a great starting point in this battle to combat and ultimately end hazing. Through research, Rocco provided us with innumerable facts about the persistence of hazing in our modern day societies. I plan on taking the facts provided by us and expand on them by learning what people’s opinions are on some of those facts that have been presented. Through this survey learning, it is my hope to not only learn more myself, but also be able to determine how we can work towards ending this unethical behavior. But before we can do that, we must have a clear understanding of what people actually know about and how they view the subject at hand. By understanding the extent to which people think and are knowledgeable about hazing, we can only then begin to put a plan together to make a difference.

-Mike Repertorio

Student President

Thank You, Rocco

Getting a project off the ground, especially when it involves going against institutionalized practices, is never an easy thing. With the Hazing Prevention Center at Medaille College, however, we have enjoyed a decided advantage – Rocco Zambito, Jr.

Appointed student president by the director of the Sport Management Program at Medaille, Dr. Richard L. Jacob, Rocco gave our mission life. His series of articles on the horrors of hazing should serve as the Center’s foundation for years to come. The work he did provided direction, showed uncommon insight and, if you’ll excuse the expression, took guts.

Rocco recently graduated from Medaille, leaving us with some big shoes to fill, but we will never forget what he accomplished. And, as he readies himself for one of the top law programs in the country, we wish him all the best.

Given his talent, dedication and heart, we expect he’ll exceed the greatest of expectations.

2011-2012

ARTICLE VIII (April 2012)

Hazing and Our Culture

The final explanation for the persistence of hazing I will analyze is cultural factors.  For too long, our culture has allowed hazing to continue.  In some instances, our culture has actually encouraged it.  It is within this atmosphere of acceptance that hazing is able to thrive.  An examination of public reaction to hazing activities reveals that many people are fine with it (especially when it only involves males), because they believe it is simply “par for the course.”

A 2006 article from the Anthropology and Education Quarterly perfectly captures this unfortunate view of many communities.  The piece focuses on a particular case of hazing that took place in a football locker room.  In the story, the team’s quarterback hazes another student in a vulgar act that is indisputably sexual harassment and abuse.  Attempting to stomp out hazing at the school, a school administrator expelled the quarterback.  Afterward, it was quickly apparent that most of the school community not only overlooked the actions as being a major concern, many actually condoned the hazing.  Besides a select few, the majority of the community was furious about the quarterback’s expulsion and believed it to be unwarranted.  Students threatened to leave the school and teachers spoke out against the administrator’s decision.

In the end, due to the public’s outrage, the quarterback was allowed to come back and re-enroll in the school.  Simultaneously, the victim had to transfer schools in an effort to get away from the unsupportive school community.  This is a perfect example of why hazing is allowed to continue in our schools.  While very few supported the helpless victim, there were plenty who were ready to defend the horrendous actions of the offender.  This hardly sends the message that hazing is wrong and should be prevented.

Shockingly, there are countless identical reports of support for hazing that come from communities all around the country.  In a great number of cases, our culture frequently blames the victim rather than the offenders.  Victims who expose hazing are commonly despised for any punishment that their actions bring to other players, coaches or the team as a whole.  In fact, the knowledge alone of this cultural climate is one thing that discourages many victims from opening up about their situation in the first place.  Accordingly, hazing persists in our society because we allow it to.  Moving forward, hazing will be impossible to stop without widespread support from communities throughout the U.S.

These cultural circumstances present obvious possibilities for impeding hazing.  If public support for hazing and hazers can be undercut, we will be one considerable step closer to eliminating it.  One way to transform the hazing culture is to establish strict, precise rules against hazing and then enforce them judiciously.  It is only fair to formalize the rules and keep people informed of them before hazing takes place, as opposed to making them up after an incident occurs.  Research shows that the punishments for hazing are not announced properly by a majority of schools.  Meanwhile, 89 percent of students think that it would be helpful for colleges to inform their group of the consequences if hazing were to occur.  This will also give schools a code of conduct to fall back on and point to as basis for rulings.  Not having a set of rules against hazing caused problems for one Pennsylvania school when it found it was unable to punish football players involved in hazing due to its lack of a documented policy.

Moreover, it is vital to enforce these rules without exception.  As soon as allowances in the rules are made to please the public, the entire system becomes tarnished and feeble.  Such exceptions will begin to send mixed signals as to what is acceptable.  Another line of attack to conquer the present culture is to address hazing incidents publicly and send a message through stern punishments.  By handling the matters openly, schools will keep the community knowledgeable as to its intolerance of hazing.  When matters are dealt with silently, there is nothing done to prevent future violations.  Additionally, levying serious penalties will discourage others from hazing due to a fear of repercussions.  With these tactics implemented, communities will be on the right path to changing their cultural perception of hazing.

Student President

Rocco Zambito, Jr.

ARTICLE VII (March 2012)

Hazing and Biology

After evaluating psychological and sociological factors causing hazing, we can look to biology as a third major explanation for the specific acts of hazing.  Biology can play a huge role in just about every human interaction, and hazing is no different.  The evidence supporting this belief is the countless research displaying the differences between hazing involving males and hazing involving females.  However, it is worth mentioning that males and females are at equal risk of being hazed.

Historically, hazing has been handled more efficiently when it is performed by females, with many chalking male hazing up to the belief that “boys will be boys.”  One of the main reasons for hazing among males is to promote a sense of masculinity, toughness and domination.  Ironically, in an effort to build masculinity male hazing sometimes involves activities that strip victims of any sense of masculinity.  This is done to signal the rejection of any inkling of femininity that exists in the group by communicating the necessity of masculinity.  The reasoning for this is that femininity is typically seen as a weakness that will bring down the success of the group.  In direct correlation, the NCAA has found that dangerous hazing is most common in football, a sport that places an absolute premium on masculinity.  Due to this purpose, male hazing is more often marred by bodily abuse and torment, therefore rendering it more physically dangerous (Risser).  In male groups, hazing commonly includes severe beatings and forced participation in risky, sometimes life threatening, activities.

This contrasts with the hazing that regularly occurs within female groups.  Female hazing is generally used as a means to embarrass or degrade its victims.  Hazing between females usually consists of less violent acts such as “composing and singing songs or dressing up.”  Girls attempt to humiliate victims through acts like using a marker to circle imperfections on victims’ bodies and faces.  The forced simulation of sexual acts is also used by female hazers.  While there are certainly numerous cases in which either gender uses hazing tactics normally associated with the opposite gender, it is useful to note that biology does play a role in the typical use of hazing.  By identifying these differences, it is easier to find remedies to counteract hazing.

With an appreciation for the biological influences for hazing, we can better combat the actions by both genders.  For men, the key to impeding hazing may well lie in education.  By teaching male students that hazing will not increase masculinity and certainly will not lead to cohesion building, males will be less likely to rely on hazing.  For instance, males in athletics use hazing to promote the masculinity that is commonly the central focus of men’s sports.  By teaching athletes about the negative group effects of hazing, they will likely shy away from it for fear of hurting their team.  Also, upon educating these men about the other principles inherent in athletics, there will be a decreased need for the promotion of masculinity and a new interest in advancing these other values.  This example of athletics can easily be transferred to fraternities, marching bands and other collegial groups that currently utilize hazing.

With women, the difficulty in preventing hazing is that the methods used are usually considered too benign to do anything about.  Therefore, it is necessary to take actions that will stop all forms of hazing, even those that may seem insignificant.  To do this, one tactic is to have all group members and directors sign documents promising not to participate in any actions of hazing or initiation.

As a matter of fact, 79 percent of students support using and renewing such a contract every year.  Doing so will obtain a promise against hazing, while simultaneously creating an opportunity to instruct those involved that even minor instances of hazing are inappropriate.  Examples of what activities are regarded as hazing should be listed in the contract, as well as in a group handbook.  This will help students identify what activities are in fact unacceptable and assure that ignorance is not an excuse for breaking the college’s hazing policy.  While this is a useful method for both males and females, it should be particularly stressed among female groups in which activities may be harder to classify as hazing and undesirable.  Recognizing the biological differences in hazing is useful in determining when to apply specific prevention strategies.

– Rocco Zambito, Jr.

Student President

ARTICLE VI (February 2012)

Hazing and Psychology

The second driving force behind hazing that I will cover is the psychological causes.  There have been several documented mental factors that explain why the act of hazing is committed.  Norman Pollard, Alfred University’s Director of Counseling, points to offenders’ need to confirm their own success of enduring hazing.  After conducting a series of studies, Pollard arrived at the conclusion that “the teammates who perpetrate the hazing are the ones who suffered it the year before, and they want to make it that much more dangerous, to validate their experience.  It gets a little worse each year.”

These students often attempt to leave their own personal mark on the rituals by outdoing previous generations.  This goal certainly sets the stage for a vicious cycle of ongoing and appalling hazing.  Revenge is also cited by many researchers as a reason that victims turn into hazers themselves.  After being wronged in the past, those who have been hazed feel the need to get even and indirectly take their misfortune out on new group members.  Tragically, this desire for revenge has led to numerous deadly retaliations against the initial hazers as well.

Hazing expert Susan Lipkins outlines a number of other psychological factors that influence people to haze.  She cites an identification with past authority figures who treated them forcefully, the need to express their own aggressive, sadistic or sexual desires to prove their masculinity and a general failure of empathy as reasons that people haze.  The psychological phenomenon of groupthink also contributes to hazing.  Groupthink occurs when “bad decisions are made by members of a cohesive group who temporarily suspend good judgment and moral reasoning because of the pressure to belong.”

This means that when placed in a group, individuals are willing to act in a way they would not on their own.  Others haze because they believe it is a time-honored tradition that they have the right and duty to carry on.  Seeing that many people in their position before them have hazed, some feel as though hazing is simply the right thing to do.  Mindlessly making the decision to haze due to tradition without considering the reasoning behind it is common in the tradition-laden atmosphere of universities.

Upon deliberating the mental origins of hazing, we can produce more preventative approaches.  For those who have been severely hazed, it is vital to get them appropriate counseling.   Doing so has two major benefits.  First of all, it will allow victims to properly cope with the post-traumatic stress hazing has been proven to cause.  Second, this will reduce the rage that commonly turns the victim into an aggressor.  Therefore, the cycle of hazing will be broken by reducing the available stream of potential offenders.  Without this counseling strategy in place, victims are the ones who continue to carry on the practice.  Moreover, psychologists themselves need to become more educated on recognizing and handling the effects of hazing so that they can give potential hazers adequate treatment.  With proper knowledge, psychologists will be able to identify candidates at risk of becoming hazers and work with them to overcome such problems before they are embodied through hazing.  Counseling of those who have been hazed and of those who display the emotional issues apparent in hazers is the first approach to taking on the psychological causes of hazing.

In order to combat the psychological thrusts of groupthink that leads offenders to haze, it is critical to get bystanders involved with bringing hazing to an end as well.  The very group nature of hazing means there are plenty of bystanders watching.  These bystanders are not involved with the act, but allow it to happen.  It is admittedly too optimistic to hope these individuals will stop the actions they witness, but they can prevent future hazing by informing a school authority.

Getting bystanders to turn in offenders is difficult for a number of reasons.  First, they do not want to break the trust of their friends in the group or lose their valuable position within the group.  Additionally, they themselves ordinarily suffer from the punishment for revealing hazing – whether it is the cancelation of a team’s season, the closing of a fraternity, or the suspension of their group.  Therefore, schools should promote such notifications by rewarding the bystander who takes such a stand against hazing.  While another option would be punishing bystanders who do not break the code of secrecy, this could cause an issue over Fifth Amendment rights.  It should be the foremost ambition of universities to support courageous bystanders who expose hazing and attempt to avoid adversely affecting them with the punishments handed out.

Keeping the anonymity of the whistleblower a priority is also critical to helping he or she avoid any chastisement they might receive from the group otherwise.  To increase the efficiency of allowing students to alert supervisors about hazing without facing repercussions from their group, anonymous tip-lines, suggestions boxes, e-mail addresses or websites should be utilized.  This would give students a safe place to relay information.  One recent study showed that 36 percent of students who would have otherwise reported hazing, did not merely because they did not know whom they could notify.  Similar research found that 88 percent of students believe it is important to empower bystanders and 70 percent thought there should be an anonymous way to disclose hazing information.

The last psychological issue is the desire to continue traditions.  To deal with the students’ psychological desire to continue the tradition of hazing, colleges should reconsider the value of all school group traditions.  Many universities have acquired numerous traditions throughout their histories.  While many of these traditions boost school pride, some (such as hazing) do nothing but create a negative environment.  It is quite simply fallacious to continue carrying out a practice that is destructive only because it is a tradition.  Many of the finest preventative strategies for hazing come from the analysis of its psychological causes.

-Rocco Zambito, Jr.

Student President

ARTICLE V (December 2011)

Hazing and Sociology

The sociological support for hazing in many groups is perhaps the biggest obstacle that must be overcome to achieve its elimination.  Hazing is used to represent and further social dominance and hierarchy.  While some of the sociological results that many claim justify hazing may actually be true, most are not.

The most prevalent claim over the years has been the belief that hazing builds team cohesion and conformity.  Even though this seems to be the main motive for the use of hazing, a variety of studies have proven it to be false.  Conversely, in 2007, a study revealed that increased hazing activities lead to less team cohesion rather than more.  All in all, there is a great deal of evidence that hazing can be divisive of group members.  Still, when developing prevention strategies it is important to remember that the theory of advancing team cohesion is a key justification of hazing in the minds of many.

Some experts have suggested that hazing may promote loyalty to the group, as well as increase the attractiveness of joining the group for outsiders.  Yet, even the possible truth of these claims should be used as an argument against permitting hazing.  The fact that these heinous actions draw in new members and boosts their allegiance to leaders who are then abusing them only shows why it is so important that hazing be stopped.  In this regard, world-renowned hazing expert and Buffalo State College graduate Hank Nuwer describes hazing as “addictive.”

Hazing is addictive in its ability to suck victims in and increase their dependence on the harmful group.  Certainly, it is troublesome for victims to be lured into and become addicted to something that puts them in danger.  Additionally, the group atmosphere of hazing has frequently led offenders to relegate the blame for their atrocious actions on the group, rather than recognizing their own responsibility for what had occurred.  This reduction of moral responsibility is hazardous in its ability to empower hazers to act without the restraint of ethical standards.  As such, developing a comprehensive sociological understanding of why groups haze is critical.

With the knowledge that groups commonly use hazing to achieve sociological goals, it is easier to prescribe strategies to stop it.  For instance, many aim to use hazing to establish stronger bonds among teams and organizations.  So, to counteract this objective it would be wise to punish those who have been discovered as hazers by removing them from the group they are attempting to improve.  The existence of such a penalty would likely be discouraging enough to some of those who haze to influence them to end their actions.  Unquestionably, someone with the goal of building a stronger team would be fearful of performing an activity that could possibly lead to their separation or dismissal from the group.  Moreover, one reason that some group supervisors, like coaches, marching band instructors and fraternity and sorority advisors, turn a blind eye to hazing is because they also believe hazing will result in better group cohesion.  These leaders should be held exceedingly accountable for any hazing they know of and decide against taking action to end.

These are the individuals trusted to protect the best interests of group members.  When they fail to live up to this duty, they should be punished severely.  Otherwise, there is no reason for them to stop an act they only deem as beneficial.  Another way to break the cycle of hazing is by introducing positive team building rituals.  As a result, these new activities will take the place of hazing and render it unnecessary.  There is no reason that initiations and rites of passage have to be degrading.  Yet, a mere 20 percent of students currently participate in only positive initiation activities.  A push to implement this tactic is already being made in Minnesota, where many positive events such as potluck dinners have been adopted.  Team trips are another healthy way to build strong organizational connectedness.  Likewise, group members would build cohesion by working on productive projects together.  Working on tasks like community service projects accomplishes many of the goals of hazing, without containing the troubling drawbacks.  It is only through an acclimation for the sociological roots of hazing that it is possible to develop strategies for its abolition.

–   Rocco Zambito, Jr.

Student President

ARTICLE IV (November 2011)

Enactments Reflect Hazing Crisis

Some high-profile cases of hazing have shed light on the terror many have faced in silence for years.  Consequently, there have been a series of laws passed in attempt to curb the cruelty.  New York was actually the first of many states to pass laws making hazing illegal.

The movement to criminalize hazing was jump-started after the death of an Alfred University student in the 1970s.   While the governor of New York at the time had originally planned to veto the bill making hazing illegal, another hazing death of a student at Ithaca College swayed his opinion.  In 1999, the South Carolina Senate passed a bill making it an obligation of the state’s Department of Education “to work to end hazing in its schools.”  As the result of a particular 2001 hazing episode, a law was passed making death or serious bodily injury resulting from hazing a third degree felony in Florida.

The law was named after Chad Meredith, a University of Miami student who drowned while swimming across a lake infested with alligators as an act of initiation.  The first students to be charged in violation of the anti-hazing law were members of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity at Florida A&M University in 2005.  By 2002, 43 states had passed legislation prohibiting hazing.  As an example, Ohio’s Bill 444 criminalized “doing any act or coercing another, including the victim, to do any act of initiation unto any student or other organization that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm to a person.” Similar laws nationwide take a step in the right direction for stopping the hazing crisis.

Today, certain law firms have chosen to specialize in hazing cases and some even put out specialty publications on the issue.  New York State’s anti-hazing laws remain among the strictest in the United States.  Nevertheless, most of this legislation has hardly been enough to stop hazing from continuing at establishments of higher learning.  Some experts point to the fact that there are far too few law enforcement officers to be able to handle any serious percentage of hazing cases.  Legal loopholes have also been used to avoid the punishment specified by regulations.

Laws against hazing by fraternities and sororities in Washington, Pennsylvania and a number of other states have been avoided when the hazing took place in other settings.  Simultaneously, the penalties for hazing are extremely lenient, as the majority of states classify hazing as a misdemeanor.  Even in cases of death, punishment for offenders is typically limited to community service or very brief jail sentences.  As a result, the prevailing trend is for incidents to generate civil rather than criminal charges.  Legal punishments for hazing need to be significantly stiffened to impede its use.  With only weak penalties looming, offenders do not think twice about continuing.

–  Rocco Zambito, Jr.

Student President

ARTICLE III (November 2011)

 

 

Hazing Comprehension

Due to poor comprehension of what constitutes hazing and the unwillingness of most to report the acts, hazing frequently occurs without proper documentation.  A recent study on hazing in college athletics is among the most extensive ever performed on the issue and helps bring to light many truths of the matter.

Results from the study show that when it comes to college athletes, those who are not hazed are actually the minority.  Not only did 70 percent of varsity athletes admit participation in hazing behavior, 60 percent of club-sport members did as well.  One would wonder how so much hazing could fly under the radar of the general public.  The particularly surprising answer is that even the majority of those being hazed do not realize it.  In the study, only 12 percent of college athletes explicitly answered that they had been hazed. However, another 67 percent detailed undergoing behaviors that are considered hazing.  Yet, these students did not acknowledge that they had been hazed because they did not realize the actions were in fact considered hazing.  Furthermore, of the general student population, up to 90 percent of those who have actually been hazed do not believe they have been hazed.  These figures show that a better understanding of hazing is needed not only by bystanders, but also by those involved with hazing.  One way of doing this is to outline some of the actions considered hazing.

With a definition as broad as hazing, the actions that fall into the category are almost endless.  Hazing has a long history, with the first reported incident coming in 1923 at Hobart College.  That episode consisted of the beating of a freshman football player, who two older players proceeded to throw into a lake.  A few of the tactics used for the purpose of hazing include physical abuse, forced actions that endanger victims, mental harassment, public or private humiliation, sexual acts and degradation.

Another common connection with hazing is the consumption of alcohol, commonly as the forced drinking of copious amounts.  Indeed, three recent studies at separate universities show that between 35 percent and 40 percent of hazing involves drinking games or forced alcohol consumption.  Another growing aspect of hazing is the use of the Internet to post pictures and videos of the events to increase embarrassment.  A number of high profile cases have revealed how despicable the actions of hazing can be.

In 2003, the Northwestern University women’s soccer team made headlines when a night of hazing included sexual exploits, players being tied up, forced exercise and underage drinking.  Making the matter even worse, humiliating pictures of the events were subsequently posted online by veteran players.

Other less outrageous actions can also have serious negative effects.  At least one coach realizes the importance of stopping any and all forms of hazing.  New York state football coach Dave Falco says of his team, “There’s no hazing at all.  No singing songs, no push-ups, no carrying water or equipment, nothing.  It always starts with the little things”.   It is important to give these incidents as much consideration as those that shock us, as they both are harmful to students.  It is quite possible that proper hazing education is the first major step to preventing it.

Rocco Zambito, Jr.

Student President

ARTICLE II (October 2011)

Hazing Defined

Hazing transpires and continues for a number of reasons.  Analyzing these factors helps us to not only understand why hazing happens and persists, but also provides insight into how the problem of hazing can be stopped.  There are roots for explanations of hazing in the fields of sociology, psychology and biology.

Furthermore, an evaluation of cultural factors supplies enlightenment into both why hazing occurs and also why it is allowed to resume.  An examination of these causes can help us to discover how hazing can be prevented, how it can be dealt with once it begins to occur and more specifically, how it should be handled in different situations.  In spite of the usefulness of such information, it is of no value if it falls on deaf ears.  As such, a prime objective is to inform others of the anguish that hazing brings to the lives of its unfortunate victims.  Upon the consideration of enumerable findings and incidents, this should not be that difficult.  Future articles produced by the Hazing Prevention Center will attempt to analyze all of these issues.  To start with, it is essential to first answer a much simpler question: what exactly is hazing?

A recent study showed that only 40 percent of students could properly define what hazing is.  While definitions may vary, hazing is most frequently classified as “any activity expected of someone joining a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate”.

There are a few aspects of this description that are of special significance.  First, it is imperative to point out that hazing does not have to be an act of physical violence.  Just as often as not, hazing consists of non-physical degradation.  Many people believe that since an action does not cause bodily injury, it is really not that bad.  This line of thinking is highly flawed.  To the contrary, mental and emotional attacks can commonly be even more devastating than physical damage.  If we are trying to protect students from harm, it is crucial to guard them from psychological abuse as diligently as we do from physical violence.

The second piece of the definition worth pointing out is that an act is considered hazing independent of whether the victim is willing to participate.  Making this distinction is not only important to understanding what constitutes hazing; doing so will also play a key role in the discontinuation of hazing.  One reason hazing is commonly allowed to persist is that its victims frequently show minimal signs of resisting the action.  This is because the main objective of victims while being hazed is usually to endure the punishment to prove their worth to the team or group.  As a result, those being hazed will usually appear willing to participate.  Instead of being a reason for allowing hazing to continue, this is actually further support for the prevention of hazing. It shows that hazing creates challenging circumstances in which people permit themselves to suffer for what they believe will ultimately result in a greater good.  With hazing abolished, such agony would not have to be endured for futile reasoning.

Indeed, studies reveal that hazing is ineffective at accomplishing its goals.  One of the most widely held misconceptions of hazing is the belief that it can actually develop better teams by building cohesion among members.  Research shows that for this reason most of those being hazed are willing to put up with it, rather than exposing the offenders or simply distancing themselves from the situation.  One count approximates that only 15 percent of those hazed considered informing anyone, while 96 percent of athletes being hazed do not even consider quitting a team just because of the hazing.  If hazing were to be eliminated, students would not be forced into these difficult situations and the pain they result in.  My next article will focus on not only how extensive hazing is, but also upon how poorly it’s understood.

–  Rocco Zambito, Jr.

Student President

ARTICLE I (October 2011)

Center President Addresses Hazing

Deeply entwined within the fabric of our country, there lies an obstacle for many students that has persisted for far too long.  Across the nation, our children, friends, brothers and sisters alike are burdened by this unnecessary adversity.  While there is hardly a setting in which it does not occur, perhaps it is most disappointing that we allow it to take place in our schools.  It has long maintained its place in locker rooms, athletic fields, dormitories and other student housing.  By almost any interpretation of the law it is abuse, yet, very little it being done to combat it.  Some attempt to justify it, most simply ignore it, but one thing is for sure: it is time for our society to get serious about the prevention of hazing.

A simple evaluation reveals that hazing is plaguing our nation.  A 2010 study revealed that over 1.5 million high school students have been hazed.  It also happens in clubs and even at the workplace.  However, hazing has proven to be most prevalent at institutions of higher education.  Research shows that 47 percent of college freshman have already been affected by hazing.  At American colleges and universities, hazing has served for decades as a rite of passage for acceptance into sports teams, fraternities and sororities, marching bands and other groups.  Some recent high-profile cases of hazing have shed light on the terror many have faced for years in silence.  Subsequently, we have seen some laws be passed in underwhelming attempts to curb the cruelty.  Nevertheless, this was hardly enough to stop hazing from continuing at establishments of higher learning.  Far too few care enough to significantly reduce events of hazing, and even fewer understand the proper strategies for combating it.

As a matter of fact, a dismally low percentage of the population truly has a proper grasp on what exactly hazing is.  If these people better understood what hazing was, who it affects, the affects that it has, why it occurs and how it should be handled, it is likely that we could drastically limit the trials and tribulations caused by hazing.  Accordingly, it is essential for tactics, initiatives, policies and methods to be developed and implemented that extremely reduce occurrences of hazing in our country’s colleges and universities.

This is where Medaille’s Hazing Prevention Center comes in.  The goal of this initiative is to raise awareness and ultimately thwart the hazing of students in our nation’s high schools, colleges and universities.  The ambition of the Hazing Prevention Center is to educate others about the existence and impacts of hazing through a wide variety of media including: research studies, essays, documentaries and appearances in newspapers, radio interviews and at local schools.  Additionally, much of our work will be consistently posted on the Medaille SPM website.  This is a great opportunity for all Medaille students, particularly Sport Management majors, to get involved for the betterment of both the college and local communities.  If you would like to participate in any way, you can e-mail me at ~ rz47@medaille.edu ~.  Any contribution to the Hazing Prevention Center is appreciated and will go a long way towards fighting this problem.  So let’s all do what we can to bring an end to hazing and the hardships it causes.

– Rocco Zambito, Jr.

Student President