Editorial: Keep hazing out of student life

Staff Editorial

With the school year in full swing and new members joining clubs, Greek organizations and RSOs, the season for hazing is upon us.

Hazing is a term that refers to any number of forced initiation rites that cause pain, discomfort or distress to those who are joining or about to join a group or organization. It can run the gamut from forced ingestion of unappetizing foods to physical pain and public humiliation.

Because hazing can take so many forms, it can be hard to recognize, especially in the exhilarating rush of joining a new group. In order to identify hazing if it happens to you, hazingprevention.org suggests asking yourself some simple questions: would you feel comfortable performing this act if your parents or a school administrator was nearby? Is the activity illegal? Is it causing other people or me stress and discomfort? Finally, does this act violate my values?

While it is often, sadly, up to initiates to protect themselves from hazing in the present, the future prevention of hazing lies in the hands of those in power. Initiation rites, and hazing by extension, are passed down from older group members to the younger, newer members in a vicious, never-ending cycle. However, the choice to continue hazing rituals is always a choice at the start of every new year.

If you are in a position of power within a group that hazes, please consider the following: you, as an individual, are not solely in power to guard your group’s gates. Testing and validating new members is not your job; instead, your job should be to guide them.

Furthermore, the consequences for hazing can be harsh. Eastern has an explicit anti-hazing policy, and the state of Illinois also has laws condemning hazing. An Eastern student found to be hazing others may be subject to school discipline and criminal prosecution. In this state, hazing is a Class A misdemeanor and may garner a fine of up to $2,500 or up to a year of jail time. Hazing incidents resulting in death are even more heavily regulated: these incidents may be charged at a Class 4 felony.

Criminal charges from enforcing hazing may follow you the rest of your life, but criminal charges may also be pressed against hazing victims depending upon their actions. Those in power in a hazing group may be technically to blame for criminal charges pressed against their younger members.

Please keep the honeymoon phase of new group membership a true honeymoon: joyous, celebratory and memorable. But please also be on your guard. Keep an eye out for hazing in your group and in others. If you see possible hazing activity, report it to the University Police Department, the Office of Student Standards and the Office of Student Affairs, or fill out the confidential form found on Eastern’s Greek Life webpage.

Have fun, and keep your fellow Panthers safe.