Students: New hazing policies miss the mark
By Colby Ye
Published on Friday, October 19, 2012
Aside from implementing random walkthroughs of Greek houses by Safety and Security officers, an updated definition of hazing and harsher penalties for rule-breaking, the College’s new alcohol and hazing policy has also prompted sweeping changes in Greek organizations’ new member education programs. While many students acknowledged that the new policy has resulted in some student benefits, most agreed that it failed to address the most important aspects of hazing.
The new policy targets activities, such as mandatory articles of clothing for new members, that students do not find emotionally or physically harmful, according to Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity new member educator Cole Adams ’13. SAE has continued its custom of wearing its fraternity letter shirts on Wednesdays and dressing formally on Fridays, but this term all members have been asked to participate in response to the new hazing policy, he said. “These are traditions that are hazing in only a very technical sense and don’t actually cause any sort of harm,” Adams said. “I think fraternities and sororities are very frustrated that they’re not allowed to do it anymore.” The increased scrutiny on membership initiation activities has also forced student leaders to devote more time to risk management, which has heightened anxiety among students and taken time away from social programming, according to the Tabard coed fraternity vice president Ranya Brooks ’13.
Dressing up in odd outfits and participating in quirky activities with other students is an important part of the Dartmouth experience that has been marginalized by the new hazing policy, Sigma Delta sorority president Heather Beatty ’13 said.
“You look at all of the Croos for [Dartmouth Outing Club First-Year] Trips and stuff — everybody’s dressed up, everybody’s got wild hair,” Beatty said. “That’s a part of the fun and spontaneity of the school, and I think it’s unfortunate that we’ve been so limited in our ability to take ourselves a little bit less seriously.”
Inter-Fraternity Council President Timothy Brown ’13 said, however, that bonding and social experiences have improved in houses in which all members are required to participate in certain activities to comply with the new rules.
New Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority member Valerie Zhao ’15 said that sorority-wide participation in new member activities has helped her build relationships with older members.
“In the first couple of days, I felt like I had such an expanded sense of community,” Zhao said. “Every time I saw a blue bow or Kappa bag, right away, I thought, I can talk to her even if I don’t know who she is because I know she’s part of the house.”
New SAE member Justin Burris ’15 said that the house-wide tradition of wearing purple SAE shirts on Wednesdays and formal wear on Fridays has encouraged brotherly bonding and sometimes served as conversation starters.
In Epsilon Kappa Theta sorority, many activities that involved dressing up in house gear were initiated by new members, according to new EKT member Joana Garcia ’15.
“Some of the pledges wanted to make that a thing, [wearing EKT shirts] a certain day,” Garcia said. “The sisters said that if we wanted to do this they would be more than happy to participate.”
Nevertheless, the implementation of random walkthroughs only addresses some open aspects of hazing and ignores illicit activities that could be happening behind closed doors or off campus, according to Alpha Theta coed fraternity member Christian Opperman ’13.
The new hazing policy targets outward aspects of how houses present their new members, which could mask underlying concerns, new Alpha Xi Delta sorority member Elizabeth Treacy ’15 said.
“With these new measures, if someone was really intent on hazing, it would force them to be more underground about it,” she said.
While representatives from Greek houses attended forums and discussions with the Greek Letter Organizations and Societies Office, many were frustrated by the top-down nature of reform, according to Zeta Psi fraternity member Stefan Deutsch ’14.
Student input was not considered in depth when the College constructed the new policy, Alpha Delta fraternity member Roland Mansilla ’13 said.
“Instead of working in unison with Greek leadership in a progressive way and looking at both sides of it, it’s just like laying down mandates, and it doesn’t feel very cooperative from the student viewpoint,” he said.
Greek leaders have expressed concerns about working with the College’s new definition of hazing and have forced members to rethink their objectives for new member education, according to Adams.
“Every house I’ve talked to has had serious discussions and made serious changes to their pledge terms,” Adams said. “At the end of the day, it’s made pledge term less intense, and I think [the new policy] has gone a ways to making frats think about the term in a more productive, positive way.”