During the last week of September, the Interfraternity Council hosted National Hazing Prevention Week. The festivities kicked off on Monday with the Change for Change Coin Drive and an anti-hazing poster competition. Further on in the week, students attended a Safe Zone presentation and Greek 101, where they learned how to participate responsibly as members of the greek community. Finally, both greek and non-greek students attended a culminating event on Thursday where prizes and information were handed out to students.
A nationwide event, National Hazing Prevention Week aims to raise awareness about hazing and why it is such a problem. Hazing is defined as any action taken or situation created intentionally that either causes embarrassment, ridicule, or risks emotional/physical harm. Hazing can happen regardless of whether or not one is greek: 47 percent of college attendees already experienced hazing before college. In fact, 1.5 million high school students are hazed each year. 40 percent of students say they are aware of hazing activities taking place on their campus, and 20 percent have witnessed it personally.
Naturally, hazing can cause extensive harm to those that are subjected to it. While many are aware of the physical and legal risks associated with hazing, fewer knew about the psychological damage that hazing can induce. As an example, take this story from Travis Apgar, a national anti-hazing activist: “That night, a teammate came to his door and asked him to come downstairs where the ‘rookies’ on the team were getting their heads shaved. Travis declined and went to bed. At practice the next morning everyone’s attitude toward Apgar had changed. He was no longer being treated like a teammate, but rather an opponent. Rude comments and cheap shots were taken at him, and he was called names. After the morning session, the captains kept the team on the field and asked the new players, or ‘rookies’ as they were called, to introduce themselves to the returning players. They were asked to say their names and bark like a dog, which was the university mascot. Apgar did not go along. In fact, he left camp, left football, and gave up his second chance to live a dream. Apgar was not going to be hazed again, ever. The pain he endured after his father killed himself and after the fraternity he pledged brought back those memories would never plague him again.”
National Hazing Prevention Week was a success at RPI, with many students attending each event. However, the ultimate aim of the week, and what students should take away, is to stand up and speak out against hazing.