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Hazing deemed cowardly
Anti-hazing advocate speaks to Greeks during National Hazing Prevention Week

Mike Brambley

The Daily Evergreen

Hazing erodes respect and takes away what the Greek community stands for, an anti-hazing advocate told fraternity and sorority members Wednesday in Beasley Coliseum.

Dave Westol spoke to students about eliminating hazing in the Greek community and on the WSU campus. The speech, “Hazing on Trial,” was a feature of National Hazing Prevention Week, a program aimed at eliminating hazing on college campuses.

“This is a process that involves cruelty and ridicule and, yes, taking away our dignity,” he said. “This is all about hazing.” He told stories of hazing gone wrong from his experiences in the Greek community at Michigan State University and work with national fraternity and sorority events.

“Hazing is the dark side of our moon,” Westol said. “It runs counter to everything we believe in.” Westol attacked the arrogance of Greek community members who have participated in hazing, using stories of deaths caused by hazing and punishments for those who have broken anti-hazing policies. “You don’t breathe the same air as me thinking hazing has anything to do with a tighter, closer or in any way better fraternity or sorority,” Westol said.

Hazing can cause legal troubles for the Greek community and can result in a chapter being shut down, he said.

Members of the Greek community who haze have less confidence and are less self-actualized, Westol said. “If one young woman, or one young man, demonstrates the courage, stands up, speaks out, confronts, challenges, makes a commitment to change, then I haven’t wasted your time this afternoon,” he said.

Westol has a long history of active involvement with the Greek community, taking on many advising and executive positions on the national level. He is also the owner and CEO of Limberlost Consulting.

National Hazing Prevention Week is a weeklong series of events sponsored by the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils to educate students about the problem of hazing.

“Live up to your standards,” said Jen Patterson, Panhellenic vice president of programming and development and a senior human nutrition major. “Live up to your policy. You say you are not going to haze, so don’t do it. There are other positive ways to build membership in the organization.” WSU has a zero-tolerance policy on hazing for the Greek community and all other student organizations.

“Without (the policy), I don’t think the Greek system would be as valuable as an experience as it is now,” said Matt Dahlstrom, freshman political science major and a Kappa Sigma member.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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