Hazing will come to the forefront of campus conversation as Lehigh’s Hazing Prevention Coalition will release its statement regarding the banned practice this Friday.
The statement, which was crafted over the last academic year, was a main component of the coalition’s work for the year, according to Elizabeth Shayler, the assistant direector of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs.
The coalition, which was formed in 2013 and meets once a month, is comprised of students, faculty and staff. Shayler, who is a member, said that the three student representatives are from the men’s swimming team, Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, and the Marching 97. The group members are meant to represent the types of organizations that may experience hazing — athletic teams, Greek life chapters and campus groups.
The faculty and staff representatives, which can be found in a list on the coalition’s website, come from various departments across campus. Offices represented include Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, Dean of Students and Residential Services, among others.
The coalition was born from the University of Maine’s Hazing Prevention Consortium, an initiative led by StopHazing Inc. to aid in hazing prevention on U.S. college campuses and beyond, according to the coalition’s website.
The consortium’s goal is to transform hazing cultures by developing an evidence base for effective hazing prevention.
Lehigh is one of eight universities to be a part of this consortium. Other universities involved include the University of Central Florida, the University of Arizona and the University of Virginia.
Lehigh was invited to be a part of the consortium due to initiatives developed by the Office of Fraternity and Sororities Affairs, according to Allison Gulati, the associate dean of Students, director of Strategic Initiatives and coalition chair. Gulati works with Shayler to run the coalition.
Both women go to annual meetings with other members of the national consortium and discuss hazing on their respective campuses and what they are doing about it.
Gulati said that the coalition hopes to hold follow-up conversations after the statement is released to further talk about hazing on campus.
“It is important that we say we won’t tolerate hazing on our campus,” she said.
Gulati recognizes hazing as an issue both on campus and nationally as well. She said that students have experienced hazing on and off Lehigh’s campus, and that the coalition’s goal is to provide those students with information and education.
The coalition’s main strategies to combat hazing this year are providing training opportunities for clubs and organizations and developing a faculty and staff training, Gulati said. She said their website presence is also an important element.
Peter Costa, director of Prevention Strategies, is another member on the coalition.
“I was invited to the coalition because of my prevention background in public health,” he said. “The coalition is making great progress toward increasing awareness and education about hazing at Lehigh.”
According to Gulati, training for the organizations will focus on new leadership, as it changes often. The training program for faculty will focus on warning signs to look for and what to do about potential hazing, she said.
“It is not only students in fraternities and sororities that are those being hazed or doing the hazing,” Gulati said. “It is other organizations as well.”
A main focus this year will be sports teams, Gulati said. The coalition will be getting information from the NCAA in order to give athletic team members specific information on hazing within their organizations.
Shayler said that the coalition is for prevention and education. It is not unique that there is a hazing problem across our student groups and this coalition is a group to educate about it, she said.
Last year, the training programs focused on the Greek system and this year they will focus on other student groups on campus, she said. The coalition also held Hazing Prevention Week last year from Feb. 9 through Feb. 13 and plans to do so again this February.