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DSA officials increase hazing prevention methods on campus

By Larshell Green
On October 5, 2017

Following the death of Louisiana State University student fraternity pledge of Phi Delta Theta, Maxwell Gruver, Southeastern Louisiana University has concentrated on presenting hazing prevention methods to the entire student body.

Leaders in the university’s Division for Student Affairs, DSA Assistant Vice President Jim McHodgkins, Assistant Director of Student Engagement Kyle Gallagher and Director of Student Advocacy and Accountability Dr. Gabe Willis have focused on informing students, faculty and members of the local community about the dangers of hazing in all organizations.

The tragedy of Gruver, which is believed to be a potential fraternity hazing incident, has resulted in a new heightened awareness of the issue on the university’s campus. Gallagher explains how the recent incident has led to the extension of previous concerns and new conversations about hazing on campus. 

“The impacts are truly deadly, and it should cause them to kind of refocus their efforts and have an introspective look at how they operate as an organization on campus,” said Gallagher.

McHodgkins explains that DSA focuses on reviewing policies surrounding the prevention of campus hazing. He explains that his office concentrates on hazing prevention by providing documents that outline actions that are not tolerated on campus.

 “Every year when the new members of the Greek organizations meet, they have a session that they go to, and they are explained what hazing is,” said McHodgkins. “They have to sign a form that states that they understand what hazing is, that they will not haze or be involved in hazing.”

McHodgkins explains that although non-Greek campus organizations are subjected to a non-hazing policy, some challenges come with discovering those incidents.

“We have the president of that organization sign a form stating that he has made his group aware of hazing and that there is none going on,” said McHodgkins. “The problem is that with some of the non-Greek organizations, it’s hard to find out who the members are because members come in and out more than they do with the Greek organizations.”

The university is currently reviewing their hazing policies and is changing the way hazing education is presented to those joining Greek life.

Gallagher explains, “We actually kind of changed the format this year from previous years to provide a more intimate structure to where I’m actually presenting to individual chapters. I can actually talk to all of the new members in a smaller setting, so we can actually have more of a dialogue about hazing rather than more so hazing education.”

In addition, the Student Advocacy and Accountability Office has created an event called “These Hands Don’t Haze” in order to bring awareness of hazing to the entire student body during Homecoming Week’s annual traditions: “Gumbo Ya Ya,” which will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 4 and the “Lip Sync Contest,” which will be held on Thursday, Oct. 5. Students will be able to place their painted handprints on a poster during the events. 

“Hazing can actually occur within really any university group or organization on campus,” said Gallagher. “We’re really going to present this more. All students need to be aware of what hazing is and how they can prevent it.”

Vice President of the Division for Student Affairs Dr. Eric Summers asked a group of Division for Student Affairs staff members and other key university members to form a committee to review the hazing policy. Members of the committee are tasked with examining how policies are written, determining what additions need to be made and developed clarifications. 

In the past, hazing within the campus organizations has resulted in chapters being shut down. According to McHodgkins, the organization’s national chapters are contacted and an investigation is held prior to the removal of individual members or entire chapters on campus. 

“It’s the same as any other investigation process, but it can be multipronged depending on the situation,” said McHodgkins. “It can go through just finding out through Student Engagement and Greek life. If that does not work and we find out it’s more than that, the police can be involved. In addition, the Accountability and Advocacy will get involved in the investigation.”

Gallagher describes the importance of viewing hazing education and prevention as a continuous issue.

Gallagher said “I think to some extent all students are aware of what hazing is, but I think we need to further develop that ongoing conversation to where we are constantly evaluating what’s going on in our organizations to make sure that they don’t cross that line. In some sense, we all need additional education when it comes to hazing.

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