Greeks ignorant of hazing effects

By Lisa Daigle

Despite increased incidents of hazing across the nation, NIU greek organizations have few proven reports of hazing.

Organizations need to understand what constitutes hazing, the effect of hazing on pledges and the penalties of hazing practices, according to Felicia Thomas, Black Greek Council adviser.

“Hazing occurs more often than it is actually reported,” Thomas said.

Many people have misconceptions about hazing, Thomas said. One reason for this is reporters of hazing incidents “open themselves up to a lot of ridicule” from the organization being accused of hazing, she said.

The NIU Student Judicial Code defines hazing as “…any act or activity which may cause (but is not limited to): fear or intimidation, embarrassment or ridicule, physical exhaustion, endangerment, harm, mutilation, or alteration of any part(s) of the body; mental fatigue, harassment, or duress; and defacement, damage, or destruction of property. The intent of the act or the consent or cooperation of the hazing recipient will not constitue a defense…”

Michelle Emmett, director of University Programming and Activities, said in the past three years there has been one proven incident of hazing at NIU. “That’s why I think there’s more going on than what’s being reported,” Emmett said.

Reported incidents of hazing have been increasing nationally, she added.

Thomas said, “I don’t think we can escape the responsibility for hazing.” Greeks involved in hazing practices do not realize they are hazing most of the time and many consider what they do practical jokes, she said.

“If we allow hazing to continue on this campus, we’re saying it’s OK that things going on here are happening to you,” Thomas said. “They (greek organizations) need to find better ways to induct members without violating hazing codes.”

Hazing can seriously affect a person’s psychological well-being, she said. “There are people who need a lot of psychological counseling as a result of hazing,” she said.

Thomas said only a few individuals, not an entire greek organization, are usually responsible for hazing incidents. However, she said “the whole orgainization will suffer,” as a result of a hazing incident.

“People want to be part of greek organizations so badly that they’re willing to participate in hazing,” she said.

After an incident of hazing is reported, Thomas said there is a temporary suspension of the organization until an investigation is done.

The strength of the sentence, if the organization is found guilty of hazing, depends on the organization’s history on campus and the severity of the act, she said.

Thomas said her advice to pledges is “don’t let the organization become more important to them than their emotional or psychological well-being.” She also encouraged counseling for those who have been victims of hazing incidents.

Thomas encouraged student pledges to get copies of their greek organization’s policy on hazing, the Illinois State policy on hazing and review the Student Judicial Code which defines hazing practices.