The school punishment for this SUNY group was FAR less than I expected. http://cardinalpointsonline.com/pi-alpha-nu-dissolved-some…/
The sexual abuse a Forney High soccer player says he suffered repeatedly at the hands of his teammates appears to be the latest episode of a recurring nightmare in schools across the country.
The teenager told authorities that some members of his team grabbed him by the arms and legs and jammed fingers and pens through his soccer shorts — again and again in locker rooms at the school and elsewhere, over nine to 10 months last year.
A second soccer player made a similar complaint to the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department, which has accused five students of sexual assault as part of a hazing investigation.
The case in Forney echoes the scandal in La Vernia, a town near San Antonio, where 13 high school athletes were arrested last year after they allegedly sodomized younger teammates with bottles and other objects.
Sexual assault is a difficult topic to discuss, but news stories about school hazing offer parents an opportunity to broach the subject with their children, said Tracy Maxwell, founder of HazingPrevention.Org, an anti-hazing advocacy group.
Just how prevalent is student-on-student sexual violence? The Associated Press said it uncovered roughly 17,000 official reports of sex assaults by students in the U.S. over a recent four-year period. But that tally is incomplete because the crime is under-reported and tracked inconsistently across states.
Maxwell, a longtime Greek life consultant, spoke with The Dallas Morning News this week about hazing and what parents should be asking their children and their kids’ coaches. The conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Over the years, the public has read about horrible and tragic initiation rituals in high school sports and college fraternities. We see the accused get in legal trouble. Why hasn’t that deterred the behavior?
People getting convicted for this, and being charged with this, is pretty new. I know it seems like lately there have been a lot of cases that have been very public and we’ve heard a lot about them, but even though 44 states have laws against hazing, it’s only very recently that students have been charged and cases have actually gone to trial and there have been convictions. It’s still pretty rare.
As that happens more, it will become a deterrent. A lot of things in our culture are shifting right now, and these behaviors that used to be maybe written off as a necessary part of a male bonding ritual are no longer acceptable.
What compels students to stay quiet when they’re being repeatedly hurt or humiliated by their peers?
The shame is a huge factor. I can compare it to some of the things that are going on right now with sexual harassment and sexual assault and domestic violence. It’s really easy for someone on the outside of one of those situations to say, “Why didn’t the person just leave, or why didn’t they report it, or why didn’t they say something?”
But when you’re inside that situation you see it differently. You think, “This must be happening to me because something is wrong with me.” Or, “It must be bothering me because something is wrong with me.” You don’t tend to see the problems with the hazer. You internalize it and make it about you.
Many hazing cases reported in sports involve sodomy. How do student perpetrators justify the behavior to themselves? Are they not seeing it as sexual assault?
I have no idea how people justify it to themselves, except probably just that they went through it themselves. I used to think hazers were these evil people who were outliers in our society, and after reading Philip Zimbardo’s work*, which really talks about how easily normal people can engage in behavior that is shocking, I don’t necessarily think that anymore. I just think hazers are people who are hazed, usually. They’re just continuing the cycle of abuse.
*Zimbardo’s famous and widely cited Stanford prison experiment in 1971 re-created a prison in a university basement and randomly assigned 24 college students with no mental health problems to be guards or prisoners. The guards became increasingly sadistic and the prisoners more depressed as the days passed. Critics say the guards were behaving as Zimbardo had encouraged them to act.
What are red flags for parents?
It’s a lot of the same signs that parents are told to watch for any other problems. Any time your child is acting strangely, if they’re withdrawn, if they seem angry for no reason, if they’re not associating with the friends that they used to associate with, or they seem sad — all of those can be signs that something is going on. All the news stories now give parents a great opportunity to bring this up.
A good way to talk about it is to use the language of, “Is something happening to you that makes you uncomfortable?” Because if you say, “Are you being hazed?” they may say no. There was a study out of the University of Maine that showed that 9 out of 10 people who were hazed didn’t recognize that what happened to them was hazing. No wonder it’s not being reported. Most people don’t even recognize it as hazing. They might see it as problematic, but they don’t know that it’s illegal.
How can parents get their children to confide in them?
These are difficult topics to talk about, especially if you’re a teenager with your parent. Foster the relationship that you already have. The more you’ve opened up the dialogue to talk about important issues, the more likely they may be to come to you.
What about parents who suspect their children are the aggressors?
I often see that parents’ viewpoint on this issue depends upon which side their child is on. If their child is the aggressor, they tend to excuse the behavior and say, “It’s no big deal” and “Why would you ruin someone’s life over this?” What I would really encourage parents to think is, “If my child were the one being abused, how would I feel?” Try to think about it from the victim’s point of view. Parents can play a big role in helping their children see the error of their ways. If they’re just repeating patterns of behavior, it can be difficult to stop that.
Should parents start talking to their children about this before high school?
Yes. We’ve seen hazing at the middle school level. Even though athletes and fraternity members are the biggest hazers, as the University of Maine study shows, what it also found is that hazing happens at all levels of our society and in all kinds of organizations, including band and performing arts, choir, church groups and even in the workplace.
What questions should parents be asking their children’s coaches or school administrators?
I would ask questions about how closely locker rooms, travel buses and summer camps are supervised, because those tend to be the places where these kinds of things happen. So if there are long stretches of time that their children are unsupervised in these kinds of settings, it opens the door, perhaps. I will say, though, supervision doesn’t always guarantee safety.
Some follow-up questions would be: How do you feel about hazing and how much power are team captains given to set the rules and discipline? I would ask: Are there different expectations for different classes? Are the newest members of the team expected to do extra duties that others aren’t? Those could potentially point to red flags and something that you should pay more attention to.
The other thing I would ask about is education. Do you have an anti-hazing policy, and what is it? And how do you communicate it to the team? Some of the studies have found that at least the perception — so this may not be reality — but the perception was that often coaches knew about the hazing and because they didn’t say anything to stop it, the students assumed that there was tacit approval.
Above is the link and an excerpt. Hope you can read it all–Moderator.
……Likewise, the two new AKL members taken to the Pullman Regional Hospital caused WSU concern, MacKay says. Investigative notes reveal that on Aug. 20, the last night of Rush Week — when fraternities recruit students — one upperclassman at AKL heard about a new member who was sick. The upperclassman walked into the bathroom, according to the upperclassman’s account of the incident, and found the new member “flopping” around, “vomiting and throwing his upper body around while staying seated.”
The upperclassman took him to the hospital, and the new member was released by early the next morning. (In the records provided to the Inlander, in response to a public records request, names of students were redacted.)
In early October, days before WSU launched their investigation of hazing, a new fraternity member fell out of his bed after drinking and got a concussion, MacKay says. He was taken to the hospital.
Incidents alleged to be hazing took place in what the frat called the “party room.” There, records say, new members were forced to finish bottles of beer. When they did “Edward Forty-Hands,” one new member reported that his hand was taped to another member’s hand with a bottle in between. Each person had another bottle taped to his free hand. They were told to finish all three bottles between the two of them.
At least once, the upperclassmen dumped out bean bags and made the new members clean all of it up while taped to another person. In another incident, a new member had his finger burned by an upperclassman’s lighter used to illuminate the dark party room, according to records.
Yet upperclassmen interviewed said that these types of things happened when they were pledges, too. And, at first, they told the school it was character building. One member said it was “not meant with malicious intent,” and instead was supposed to be about teaching accountability. He said the “definition of hazing has become muddy.”
But Jeremy Slivinski, CEO of the fraternity at its headquarters, told the members at WSU that the incidents were “abusive and a demonstration as to why fraternities are viewed poorly in this day and age. Brothers don’t hurt each other to prove or receive a demonstration of loyalty.”
The individual students involved are facing charges through the university’s student-conduct process that could result in discipline, MacKay says.
“We take this stuff really seriously,” MacKay says. “Protecting the health and safety of our students is critical.”
To prevent future hazing incidents, Nuwer says there needs to be a change in culture. Fraternities are founded on principles of camaraderie and loyalty to one another. When they get in trouble, they tend to cover for one another.
“There’s a lot of self-delusion after the incident,” Nuwer says.
Fraternity members don’t know when they’re hazed, he says, because often they can’t identify hazing behaviors. And when they try to reform the system, they often get pressure from alumni.
A really really thoughtful piece about what it takes to investigate hazing https://muhlenbergweekly.com/news/seeing-through-the-haze/
Excerpt follows. Nice job, Muhlenberg.
Last November, allegations of hazing surfaced in the Muhlenberg Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon (Sig Ep). By December, the brothers were charged with violating the social code and anti-hazing policy, and removed from campus until 2021.
“Specifically, the chapter was accused of hazing brothers by paddling them, by having brothers extinguish a fire by spitting mouthfuls of dry rice on it, by instructing new members to sleep at the chapter house and to carry their belongings in backpacks. In addition, the chapter allowed a number of suspended Sigma Phi Epsilon members to participate in these activities,” stated Allison Gulati, Dean of Students, who oversaw the investigation.
On Nov. 7, a report was filed alleging Sig Ep of hazing. On Nov. 30, after review by Assistant Dean of Students and Judicial Officer Jane Schubert, they were charged with violating the social code, and on Dec. 7, the Judicial board held a hearing. Sigma Phi Epsilon had already been put on disciplinary charges the year before and revoked their fraternity house. The Judicial Board took this pervious account into consideration.
Although the fraternity brothers and those involved were notified immediately, to prevent interference with the investigation and trial details were not disclosed to the public until Gulati released a student-wide e-mail over winter break.
“We also have to [release information] pretty sensitively when hazing is involved, because one of the most important things to us is protecting our students. So we don’t want a student who has reported something to be outed in unnecessary ways, or to be treated inappropriately because they have asked for help or anything like that.” said Gulati.
As a result, few have come forward or have been willing to share information on what happened. The silence, however, does not mean the problem isn’t there, said Gulati.
“There are other student groups that face hazing issues all the time. Those could be performing arts groups, clubs, athletic teams, other fraternities and sororities,” said Gulati, “Hazing is happening on every college campus in America. And so we want students to be aware, based on what occurred, what can happen as a result of that and the severity.”
Muhlenberg is not the first college, nor is it the last, to encounter student hazing. A study done by the University of Maine estimated that 55 percent of college students experience hazing.
Greek life in Pennsylvania was put on the map last year with the death of Timothy Plaza, a Penn State student who died from injuries resulting from binge-drinking as part of initiation to Beta Theta Pi. In 2013, Psi Delta Psi was banned after the death of pledge Chun “Michael” Deng. Another student died at Lafayette not long after Plaza, although the death was ruled as unrelated to hazing. In the last decade, 33 people in the US have died from hazing-related incidents, according to Hank Nuwer, a professor of journalism at Franklin College who has researched and written extensively about hazing. An article posted by Times magazine posed the question: What can be done?
The fraternity Zeta Beta Tau, which colonized at Muhlenberg in 2015, is one of the first nationally non-pledging, non-hazing greek organizations. The chapter currently has 40 members, four of whom just joined. The incident with Sig Ep hasn’t discouraged the brothers from continuing to recruit, said President Matthew Itzkowitz, ‘19. Rather, as Itzkowitz explains, it makes them proud to be non-pledging.
“When people were rushing us, we would normally tell them that we’re not hazing, we’re not pledging to begin with,” said Itzkowitz, “ but we would make sure that they knew that during rush week so that way they didn’t have any doubts considering what had happened. They wouldn’t have to worry about that.”
After a brother died from a hazing incident in 1989, the fraternity at the national level stopped pledging and hazing, which Itzkowitz wanted to emphasize considering the current negativity associated with Greek life.
“I think that fraternities and sororities just get a really negative name in general,” said Itzkowitz. “I think that the more positive news that we get out about Greek Life the more the public opinion of it will change. Schools around the nation are just shutting down all greek life, regardless of whether they have or haven’t done something wrong so if we could let it be known that there are good organizations out there then I think the ones that are good won’t be and shouldn’t be punished.”
As part of Muhlenberg Greek Life, the brothers need to partake in Philanthropy, which ZBT does through Get On The Ball, a fundraiser that collects donations for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. ZBT also hosts Green Light Go, an event which teaches consent.
Although they are open in discussing their hazing policies, ZBT doesn’t discuss the matters with other Greek organizations.
“Hazing and pledging isn’t something that we talk to other organizations about, like other fraternities and sororities. I know everyone that’s in ZBT knows and is open about the fact that we don’t haze or pledge. So if anyone ever asks us they know. Everyone is equally able to talk about that.”