“Breaking tradition, not the law” was a recurring theme throughout Wednesday night’s anti-hazing workshop.
More than 50 students, representing various Greek-letter social and service fraternities and sororities, attended the workshop encouraging them to refrain from participating in hazing practices.
Karen Colston, the Greek life adviser, said some chapters of fraternities and sororities have forgotten the founders’ original mission.
“They were founded with a focus on service to the community,” Colston said. “They did not mean for this to hurt you or tear down your self-esteem.”
Although Colston said the seminar is held each fall and spring semester, the workshop comes days after Lt. Louis Wicher of FAMU police confirmed an investigation into the hazing practices of the Upsilon Psi chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.
The Los Angeles Times reported that nine black students have died as a result of pledging rites associated with black fraternities and sororities between 1975 and 1990.
Currently, the university has an anti-hazing policy that can be found in The Fang, the student handbook. The policy prohibits “any brutality of a physical nature, such as striking in any manner, whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of food, liquor, drugs, or other substances, or other forced physical activities which would adversely affect the health or safety of the individual.” Forced conduct that could negatively affect a person’s mental health is also prohibited.
Violators could face fines, university probation, expulsion, or withholding of grades, transcripts or diplomas. In addition to university penalties, the state may also press criminal charges.
“It’s (hazing) not worth it,” said _____________________ and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. “Think about what it will do to your future.”
Harold Ford, the director the Center for Human Development said the psychological effects of hazing have permanently damaged the mental health of some of his patients.
“We (blacks) know what it is to be dehumanized, broken down and have our self-concept destroyed,” Force said. “That’s what you’re doing when you haze. You make them so miserable, so dependent that you’re intentionally trying to make a person lose sense of self-worth and self-identity and that’s wrong.”
Demetris Kelly, 21, a senior accounting student from Jacksonville and a member of Gamma Chi chapter of Iota Phi Theta said the workshop gave him clarity about the law and should be open to students who are interested in pledging.
“It should be more directed to non-Greeks so they’ll know their rights when thinking about joining an organization.”
Force said the key aspect for fraternities and sororities to remember is respect for the organization as well as the initiates.
“What you want to do is uplift the people,” he said. “Human life is valuable and more important than the organization.”