September 29, 2014

EDITORIAL: Hazing Prevention Should Expand to All

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In conjunction with National Hazing Prevention Week last week, University officials and student leaders outlined efforts to broaden hazing reduction efforts and involve more student organizations in the conversation surrounding hazing. The University brought together faculty, staff and students — creating The Council on Hazing Prevention, which included members from Reserve Officers Training Corps, a capella groups and the Student Assembly — to expand anti-hazing efforts. We at The Sun agree that hazing prevention should not be limited to organizations such as the Greek system and athletic teams, and support the University in bringing students from different organizations together. However, we are skeptical that these steps will reach all students and call upon the University to be more clear about these efforts to educate all students about hazing.

We ardently oppose hazing in all forms. Under Cornell’s Code of Conduct, “Hazing means an act that, as an explicit or implicit condition for initiation to, admission into, affiliation with, or continued membership in a group or organization, (1) could be seen by a reasonable person as endangering the physical health of an individual or as causing mental distress to an individual through, for example, humiliating, intimidating, or demeaning treatment, (2) destroys or removes public or private property, (3) involves the consumption of alcohol or drugs, or the consumption of other substances to excess or (4) violates any University policy.” In particular, hazing can have debilitating and life-threatening consequences, like the hazing-related death of George Desdunes ’13, a brother of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, in 2011. It is because of these physical and emotional dangers that we support the University as it expands its anti-hazing efforts and works to educate all students about hazing.

The council represents another concrete step in fostering the dialogue around hazing. But we encourage the University to take further steps in reducing hazing by creating additional educational programming, seminars and awareness campaigns. By educating organizations across the University on better practices for integrating new members into groups, the University can better reduce hazing incidents and provide a more positive group environment. Overall, we cannot stress enough the dangers of hazing, and our support for the University as it continues its efforts to eliminate hazing, but we hope that the initiatives are clearly enumerated and effectively implemented.