Lehigh’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs hosted a series of hazing awareness and prevention events to celebrate National Hazing Prevention Week.
Events included a live national town hall titled, “Love, Mom & Dad: Turning Tragedy into Progress,” an anti-hazing pledge and various chapter discussions.
Devore McIntosh, the assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, along with his colleagues, coordinated efforts differently this year in conjunction with HazingPrevention.org.
“We put together some opportunities for our organizations to take accountability to listen, to watch, to learn, and to educate so that they can do a better job when it comes to boarding new members,” McIntosh said.
By challenging Greek organizations to be more proactive and involved with programming opportunities, Lehigh has taken more hands-on steps to eliminate hazing through campaigns and educational activities. Beyond webinars, all Greek organizations have taken an anti-hazing pledge through the “These Hands Don’t Haze” campaign, a social media campaign that recognizes the harm caused by hazing.
McIntosh emphasized the importance of educating students about things beyond hazing, like sexual assault, drug abuse and mental health.
Through continuously reinforcing and educating students, Lehigh is working to decrease the number of incidents and reports on campus and fully adhere to the Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law in Pennsylvania. Passed in 2017, the law is intended to enforce stern punishments for all crimes of hazing and exert more transparency and accountability between the university and its organizations.
Holly Taylor, associate director of the Office of Student Conduct and Community Expectations, said the university’s initiatives to combat hazing have had a positive impact.
Taylor is in charge of educating members and ensuring a fair disciplinary process.
“The Greek organizations want to foster lifelong friendships …. (and) want to foster academic and intellectual connections with alumni and other people,” Taylor said. “There’s a power dynamic with hazing that can be scary. My best advice is, ‘Don’t do anything to people that you wouldn’t want to be done to you.’”
Zeta Tau Alpha sorority member Sarah Valenti, ‘22, said when she joined her chapter, it was clear that she was in an environment that looked down on hazing and deemed it wholly unacceptable.
“One of the first things that the older students told me was, ‘We don’t haze, it doesn’t fall under our values and is not good for our sisterhood,’” Valenti said.
After becoming educated on her chapter’s history and values, Valenti felt a sense of belonging and made sure to continuously welcome and support her sisters.
“We value treating each other with respect and seeing the humanity and dignity of other women,” Valenti said. “If you haze you clearly are disregarding and disrespecting the dignity of someone else.”
Although Valenti’s chapter as well as all others will be conducting virtual recruitment, the zero tolerance policy for hazing within Lehigh Greek life remains prominent.