By Samantha Rutt
Amid the start of a new academic year, Stony Brook University will host a program during National Hazing Prevention Week.
This annual program takes place during the last full week of September, designed to raise awareness, educate students and promote hazing prevention.
Member of Theta Phi Alpha, an SBU-recognized sorority, Samantha Navarro, explained her experience with the event.
“During this week, Theta Phi Alpha members, as well as other sororities and fraternities on campus, come together to attend and support events that foster and educate hazing prevention.”
Hazing, often characterized by dangerous initiation rituals and activities, has long plagued college campuses, leading to injuries, psychological trauma and, in tragic cases, even death.
Per New York State hazing laws, a person is guilty of hazing in the first degree when he/she intentionally or recklessly engages in conduct, including, but not limited to, making physical contact with or requiring the physical activity of such other person, which creates a substantial risk of physical injury to such other person or a third person and thereby causes such injury.
Hazing in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor.
“Hazing is not tolerated at Stony Brook,” SBU officials said. “The university has set in place policies and procedures to prevent hazing, including a comprehensive prevention program.”
The NHPW Committee hosts weeklong events featuring various presentations, campaigns, competitions and a documentary screening.
“Through the specific events during this week, as well as efforts taken on by every member, we put 100% of our efforts into fostering and promoting a positive and inclusive chapter that promotes against hazing,” Navarro said.
During NHPW, all executive board members and active fraternity and sorority community members must complete a one-hour awareness course, providing them with further education on recognizing, reporting and preventing hazing.
“Ongoing training and development with student leaders is pivotal in promoting a hazing-free campus,” university officials said. “Continuing the conversations around hazing prevention and the impact of hazing on a university encourages students to stay informed and ahead of hazing national and state policies.”
To aid in the fight against hazing, Stony Brook University offers a prevention pledge, asking those who sign to advocate for the prevention of all hazing-related behaviors.
SBU officials indicated that being found guilty of hazing or violating university policy may result in organizational conduct proceedings, sanctions, corrective action and/or a change in organizational status.
In these cases, the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards receives, investigates and resolves alleged violations of the Code of Student Responsibility involving nonacademic misconduct by students. Disciplinary actions depend on the severity of the incident, in adherence with university policy.
Annual reporting conducted by the university and Fraternity and Sorority Life Community Scorecards show a considerable improvement and decrease in actionable hazing cases.
Student Engagement and Activities and Fraternity and Sorority Life tracks conduct of university-affiliated organizations, observing that the numbers of actionable cases have significantly decreased compared to previous years due to prevention efforts and a culture change in students.
“Hazing is detrimental in any context, and it has no place in Theta Phi Alpha or Stony Brook University,” Navarro said.
Students can report hazing through a variety of means. If emergent, students are urged to report immediately to law enforcement, whether by contacting University Police — 333 on campus phones or 631-632-3333 or by dialing 9-1-1.
Students can also file an incident report to any campus faculty, staff, or administrator, or follow Stony Brook’s Good Samaritan Policy.