Hazing: A nationwide problem on college campuses

Hazing has been a recent issue at Kent State, as two fraternities have been suspended for it in the last year. Kappa Alpha Psi, a predominately African American fraternity, was suspended for three years in fall 2013, and Sigma Tau Gamma received a three-year ban in spring 2014. The fraternities cannot function as student organizations and are prohibited from participation in Greek life activities.

According to HazingPrevention.org, hazing is defined as any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule and risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.

National Hazing Prevention Week

Last week was National Hazing Prevention Week, and campuses across the nation took part in it. At Kent State, many sorority and fraternity members attended events each day, which included speakers and seminars, regarding the issue of hazing and how to prevent it. Some of the activities required a certain percentage of each Kent State chapter to attend.

“For our National Hazing Prevention Week, we had the Greek community sign a petition against hazing,” said Brittani Dougherty, President of Risk Management and Reduction for Kent’s Panhellenic Council. “We also had a speaker, Michelle Guobadia, from Campus Speak give an amazing presentation against hazing. The Greek community was taught about the extreme consequences of hazing that expands outside of college.”

Kent’s Zero Tolerance Policy

Dougherty said Kent State Greek Life has a zero tolerance policy for hazing, and generally the whole chapter will suffer if it is accused of hazing, but it is addressed on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to Kent State’s zero tolerance hazing policy, hazing is illegal in Ohio.

“We’ve had issues recently with fraternities at Kent State,” said Christina Bordonaro, Vice President of Communications for Kent’s Panhellenic Council and member of Alpha Xi Delta. “Sororities do not haze. If we do, it will be taken to our judicial board and more than likely we would be thrown out. We have a no hazing policy, and it is strictly enforced and must be followed.”

Even though there have been recent issues, Dougherty said Kent State’s hazing policy ensures hazing does not become a problem.

Miss America 2014

National Hazing Prevention Week couldn’t have taken place at a more relevant time, because last week the world found out Miss America 2014, Kira Kazantsev, had been terminated from her sorority, Alpha Phi, at Hofstra University for hazing pledges. She was serving as New Member Educator and Recruitment Committee President for her chapter during the time, and apparently this information was no surprise to the Miss America organization.

Jezebel broke the story just days after Kazantsev was crowned and had shared her platform, “Love Shouldn’t Hurt,” a social cause protecting women against domestic violence. While Kazantsev says the allegations against her were not true, she didn’t show up for her disciplinary hearing about the issue. Now, her former sisters are sharing what they went through as pledges.

“I do not think what Miss America did is acceptable,” said Bordonaro. “She went against rules of her chapter and her role. Hazing in general is disrespectful and unacceptable, no matter how old you are.”

Even though she disagrees with Miss America’s actions, Bordonaro said she believes Kazantsev has learned from this experience and can still be a good role model. “I think she needs to move on from this and apologize,” she said. “She needs to make those she felt uncomfortable understand that she knows she treated them wrongly.”

Kent’s Alpha Phi Chapter

Despite the relevancy of the issue, Kent State’s chapter of Alpha Phi, Beta Omega, would not comment on Miss America, the situation or hazing in general.

Alexa Maslowski, Vice President of Recruitment for Kent’s Alpha Phi, said only the president can comment on behalf of Alpha Phi Beta Omega. However, Kaylee Schaefer, President of Kent State’s Alpha Phi chapter, Beta Omega, said her advisory board would not permit her to make a comment on the situation.

New Members

Bordonaro said each year, new members are taught what to do and who to turn to if they feel they are being hazed. “We have a New Member Educator who teaches them everything they need to know about Greek Life, sororities and our chapter, and they are taught what to do when they feel there is an issue,” she said.

Dougherty said the word “pledges” is not a term used anymore because it is considered a form of hazing. “But, the ‘new members’ of each chapter can confide in their New Member Educator, president of their chapter or any older member they feel they can trust,” she said.  “They are also made aware of the Panhellenic Council, which serves to handle those issues also.”