Fraternity and Sorority Life offers distinctive anti-hazing education

November 02, 2012

by Molly Sheerer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State has undertaken a new, comprehensive anti-hazing education initiative for students in fraternities and sororities. An hour-long, interactive seminar designed specifically for members of Penn State’s fraternity and sorority community addresses attitudes, perceptions and beliefs that allow hazing to take place.

The University's Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life is collaborating with RISE Partnerships, an education and consulting firm for interfraternal communities, to create the program. Offered more than 50 times during October and early November to approximately 100 students per session, the seminar is intended to reach everyone in the 5,000-member fraternity and sorority community by the last session on Monday, Nov. 12. This effort, according to Roy Baker, director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life at Penn State, makes the initiative a unique program and approach to anti-hazing education in higher education.

“I think it would be safe to say that most colleges and universities bring in a speaker on a one-time basis who approaches this topic in a more traditional way,” Baker said. “We have created our own program specific to Penn State based on data we received from our research with our students, so I believe it may be one of the most innovative and distinctive approaches to anti-hazing education in the country.”

Over the summer, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life benchmarked anti-hazing educational programming options available at colleges and universities throughout the United States. After the data were compiled, Penn State officials and RISE selected seminar content they believe could be most effective at changing attitudes, beliefs and perceptions about hazing, an effort Baker says is important.

“The objective of the program is to encourage our students to become more cognizant of their attitudes, perceptions and beliefs that provide fertile ground for hazing to emerge. Instead of providing a traditional anti-hazing program for our students that only talks about what hazing is and is not, we want to try a different approach,” he explained. “Our approach helps our students understand that possibly some of the practices they may consider as 'traditions' in their chapters also are considered hazing."

In addition, Baker said, the program demonstrates to students that their perceptions can be inaccurate because their decisions are sometimes made based on how they think their peers think or feel about a topic. "Once students begin to realize that the majority do not support what they have always been led to believe were majority attitudes or beliefs, some of the traditional practices related to new member education will change,” he explained.

In the sessions, RISE and Penn State discuss students’ attitudes toward hazing situations and what factors would improve their likelihood of intervening in inappropriate situations. Survey results will be included in the educational session as part of a conversation about the ethical perspective on hazing and the value of critique.

RISE Partnerships, based in Iowa City, Iowa, was chosen to partner with Penn State because of its approach to challenge fraternity and sorority members to step up, take action and use their values to change the world while providing training and tools to build leadership, boost involvement and create a more relevant fraternal experience.

Students who witness an act of hazing can report it on the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life website.

  • Penn State's Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life has developed a new, research-based anti-hazing program to educate fraternity and sorority members about the attitudes, perceptions and beliefs that allow hazing to take place.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 19, 2017