April 14, 2014

Cornell Establishes Council On Hazing Prevention

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In an effort to expand hazing prevention efforts on campus, the University formed a new Council on Hazing Prevention to prevent and address hazing on campus.

Although the prevalence of hazing at Cornell is significantly lower than the national average, hazing still can have a “devastating” effect on students, according to Travis Apgar, associate dean of students for fraternities, sororities and independent living.

“The work of this council is incredibly important in terms of protecting the health and safety of all students,” Apgar said in a University press release. “We want to make sure we’re taking good care of our students and providing the best atmosphere for them to succeed.”

Tim Marchell ’82, director of mental health initiatives at Gannett Health Services and council co-chair, said concerns related to hazing-related issues were not only limited to the Greek system. The council’s goal is to prevent and address hazing not only in Greek organizations, but other campus groups such as academic groups, athletic teams and clubs — according to the release.

“Its prevention is the responsibility of all members of the campus community,” he said. Consisting of students, faculty, staff and alumni, the council will work to change the entire culture of the University to a hazing free environment, the release said. The council plans to do so by using an approach focused on education of the community and consistent interventions of hazing incidents.

Additionally, the council will use the University’s framework for addressing hazing to “review current Cornell policies,” assess the perceptions and attitudes toward hazing and guide the formation of education initiatives, according to the release.

The council aims to promote non-hazing activities that will encourage group bonding — such as the development of leadership skills and “demonstrating member commitment.”

Marchell said that with the formation of the council, the University will take its efforts to address hazing “to the next level.”

“We have had a longstanding commitment to this issue, yet there is a lot of work to be done,” he said.

Apgar said he believes that the council’s goals and work would be instrumental in “protecting the health and safety” of students.

“We want to make sure we’re taking good care of our students and providing the best atmosphere for them to succeed,” he said.

The council’s work will be aided by the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention, which is led by the University of Maine.

Its first meeting took place last Thursday.