The Sigma Chi fraternity at the University of Central Florida (UCF) caused a major controversy when it posted a photo on Facebook with the caption, “Forcing a new member to chug while two others puke in misery.” Sigma Chi was also involved in the death of a girl in 2011 from excessive drinking at a frat party. As a result, UCF has suspended all Greek life indefinitely.
Could this happen here at Lawrence Technological University (LTU)?
At LTU, Greek life has an absolute zero tolerance hazing policy. According to the LTU Student Code of Conduct, “hazing is defined as an act that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student, or which destroys or removes public or private property, for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in a group or organization.”
Although LTU has never had to deal with anything like the situation at UCF, Greek Life Advisor Liz Artz said, “I get at least one rumor a month about hazing within the orgs. That is a lot.”
This semester, in hopes of educating new members and Greek organizations, Artz and LTU’s Greek Council put together an “Anti-Hazing Seminar” on Feb. 10. All new spring 2013 fraternity and sorority members were required to attend.
“Penalties for hazing are very severe. There is no room for error. If you think it’s hazing, it probably is. Don’t put yourself in a situation that could jeopardize the chapter or any member. This is a very serious matter,” Artz said.
At the seminar, students were given a packet of information about anti-hazing rules and regulations. Michigan is one of 40 states where hazing is a criminal offense. The packet included information on Greek life policies, the Michigan law on hazing, a list of 84 examples of what is considered hazing, a list of hazing alternatives, and myths and facts about hazing.
Students were also shown a powerful video in which an 18-year-old boy named Gordie died from fraternity hazing. “When the video was over, the whole room was silent,” Artz said.
For Artz and LTU’s Greek Council, it is important to educate future members and continuously remind Greek fraternities and sororities that any form of hazing will not be tolerated at LTU. Many people do not realize that even something as simple as making your new members stay up all night for a study session is defined as hazing.
“Sometimes we can forget that we do not know the background of our new members. We do not know what they have been through, so when you force someone to do something, anything, it could affect them more than you know,” Artz said.