Opinions writer discuses issues with hazing on college campuses, photo of Bowling Green State University courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
In past years, hazing has been seen as a topic that should not be spoken about. However, in the wake of mourning two students who lost their lives to hazing, it is time to throw caution and comfortability to the wind.
The first of the tragic losses was 19-year-old, Adam Oakes. Oakes was a member of the Delta Chi chapter fraternity at Virginia Commonwealth University.
According to the New York Times, Oaks was found on the morning of March 6 by Richmond Police after being blindfolded and given alcohol at a hazing party. According to a family member, he had hit his head while intoxicated and was placed on a couch on his side the night before.
The second loss was 20-year-old, Stone Foltz of Bowling Green State University. Foltz was a member of the university’s Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
In an interview with the Washington Post, a family member noted that Foltz died after being given an excessive amount of alcohol at an off-campus event with his fraternity.
Members of his fraternity dropped him off at his apartment around 11 p.m., although he was in need of transportation to the hospital. Soon after his arrival, his roommates entered and discovered him unconscious and unresponsive.
Each incident resulted in the fraternities being placed on suspension by the universities. Additionally, each university emphasized their commitment to and assessment of their hazing policies. While these statements are well intentioned, it is hard to determine if they will help solve this ongoing problem.
The University of Dayton website has a page featuring hazing statistics such as: 55 percent of college students involved in clubs, teams and organizations experience hazing, two in five students say they are aware of hazing taking place on their campus, and in 95 percent of cases where students identified their experience as hazing, they did not report the events to campus officials.
With terrible acts like this occurring at high volumes across the nation, when is it time to say enough is enough? When will the loss of another individual with a bright future be the last? How would you feel to lose a friend or fellow Flyer to hazing knowing that change should have been advocated for?
Some may feel uncertain about how they can help to eradicate hazing from our culture. My advice to them would be that while some steps may feel small, change doesn’t happen overnight. Implementing preventive and inclusive aspects to our daily lives may be enough to solve this persistent, damaging issue.
One of the most important ways to curb hazing is to encourage conversation.
Throughout high school, hazing was something that happened, but was not addressed. And if it was, it was in the event of mourning someone who lost their life to hazing.
Hearing about these incidents breaks my heart, because if we were encouraged to report hazing, speak out against it, and support those who have experienced it, I believe hazing deaths would be few and far between.
Another crucial way to support the fight against hazing is advocating for the implication of existing legislation and policy, as well as the creation and adaptations of these items.
A report showed that as of 2019, there are 44 states who have laws prohibiting hazing. That leaves six states who have no laws regarding hazing at all. Out of those 44, only 13 states have laws that make death or serious injury by hazing a felony for its perpetrators. If the law doesn’t adequately address hazing or its consequences, how can we expect institutions to bring about any sort of change?
Signing petitions is a wonderful way to get behind efforts to reform policy or legislation.
BGSU students created a Change.org petition that would support a “no second chances” policy. This policy would expel students who were found guilty of hazing not only from their organization or greek house, but from the university as a whole.
In the current policy, students who commit these acts can still be allowed to attend the university, but the creators of the petition believe there is no place for individuals like this on their campus. If interested in signing this petition it can be found here.
As you know, “community” is a buzzword at the University of Dayton that is not taken lightly. We all take pride in this community and it is our responsibility to represent it well.
If something doesn’t seem right to you, there is no harm in speaking out or consulting someone, whether it be a mandatory reporter or confidential resource.
While certain actions may seem harmless or not like hazing at all, they have real consequences. As we pass our condolences to the family and friends of Adam Oakes and Stone Foltz, it is essential to educate ourselves on how we can prevent these incidents in order to better our campus and campuses everywhere.
If you have witnessed or been a victim of hazing on UD’s campus, you can report it here.