NASPA Session Tackles Hazing Problem Among Black Greeks

BOSTON Black Greek fraternity members feel hazing solidifies their loyalty to their organization and builds “character and discipline,” according to study results presented to a packed session at the 90th annual NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education conference.

When given the choice, prospective fraternity members preferred an intake process that involved some hazing to solidify their loyalty and commitment to the fraternity and to their peers, Dr. Dwayne J. Scott, associate dean of student and judicial affairs at the University of Memphis, said during a presentation on the factors that contribute to hazing among collegiate Black Greek-letter organizations (BGLO).

Scott’s presentation was based on findings from his master’s thesis on the prevalence of hazing among Black fraternities.

Scott, a member of  Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., reported that among 20 men surveyed, not only was hazing important but how much hazing one endured was a key factor. Members that forfeit hazing are ridiculed and shunned by members that opt to be hazed, he said. Hazing as defined by the participants surveyed is: paddling, slapping, kicking, push ups, squats, verbal abuse, running and yard work.

“According to the men … , hazing caused participants to appreciate their organizations more,” Scott said. “Hazing built character and discipline. Prospective members believe that hazing is a one-time process that must be endured similar to other situations in life.”

Indeed, many pledges believe that hazing makes them stronger mentally. One student seeking anonymity mentioned something that is common to most BGLOs when questioned on the benefits of hazing, “We were not allowed to walk on grass,” the student said, “teaching us that in life there are no shortcuts.”

It was standing room only during the presentation that drew student affairs professionals concerned about dangerous hazing among BGLOs.

Dr. Elizabeth Medina from the University of Texas at Austin sought solutions on how to be more proactive. “Student affairs representatives usually intervene once a complaint has been submitted. How do we change the model to institute preemptive measures?” she asked.

Student affairs personnel at the session recommended that collegiate chapters reach out to alumni to provide greater mentorship and that student affairs personnel institute more authoritative practices. Schools should know the names of individuals participating in intake processes and regulate when the process starts and when the process ends.

To eliminate the growing number of violent hazing cases among collegiate Black fraternities, Scott suggested a zero-tolerance policy among campus leadership and an official statement clearly defining what constitutes hazing.

“A slap on the wrist is no longer enough. We have to be prepared to suspend and expel people, even bring in outside law enforcement if necessary. That is the only thing that will bring about change,” he said.

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