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It might be possible to take the awareness of hazing and use it to create campus-wide positive action around the issue. In the study, majorities of students said they had experienced the following prevention and intervention strategies: group participation in community service, anti-hazing policies explained during new student orientation, explanation of how to report suspected hazing, advisor or coach communication of expectations that there would be no hazing. In most instances, students said they had limited exposure to prevention efforts beyond a â€œhazing is not toleratedâ€ approach. Such practices would need to be assessed for their effectiveness in reducing hazing incidents as well as other types of initiatives introduced.
While there are no simple solutions or foolproof methods for eliminating hazing on a college campus, lessons learned in the field of public health indicate that a comprehensive approach is most effective for preventing harmful practices like binge-drinking and hazing. Campuses might begin that process by forming a broad-based coalition to enhance institutional capacity to address hazing on their particular campus. Members of the coalition should include:
- Administrators from student affairs and athletics
- Student activities staff
- Residence life staff
- Campus police
- Greek life coordinators and fraternity and sorority leaders
- Prevention specialist and health educator
- Recreational sports director (intramurals & club sport)
- Judicial affairs staff
- Student athlete leaders
- Alumni, parents, and community representatives
As campus community builders, student activities staff are well-positioned to lead this coalition.
Initially, the group might identify aspects of student life that seem to encourage hazing and aspects that seem to inhibit its likelihood. Once these factors have been determined, strategies can be defined and enacted at multiple levels, including: intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, institutional, and community. The following are examples of strategies at each level that a coalition might pursue:
- Intrapersonal: Develop strategies that help students recognize hazing and the potential for harm even in activities they consider to be â€œlow level.â€
- Interpersonal: Help student leaders develop skills needed to deal with resistance to change among group members.
- Group: Help groups generate strategies for building group unity and sense of accomplishment that do not involve hazing.
- Institutional: Develop mechanisms that encourage students to report hazing while protecting them from retribution by group members.
- Community: Educate parents about signs of potential hazing and encourage them to contact staff if they suspect their son/daughter is being hazed.
Of course, results from each of these efforts will need to be evaluated to determine their success. The National Study of Student Hazing provided the first baseline and can serve as a catalyst for broader, more in-depth investigations in the future. Recently, the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention (NCHRP) grew out of the study. The NCHRP will provide a centralized infrastructure to support campus and school efforts to identify and eliminate hazing. Among its top priorities, the NCHRP is committed to assessing hazing prevention efforts to determine what approaches are most effective to help campuses and schools promote safer and healthier campus climates for all students.
In the mean time, by leading campus-wide conversations about hazing and using the data available, college union and student activities professionals can demonstrate their commitment to reducing hazing incidents now and in the future.
A full report of the initial findings of the National Study of Student Hazing can be downloaded from the NCHRP website: http://www.hazingstudy.org.