School emphasizes zero tolerance for hazing

News of recent hazing incidents on FAMU’s campus does not come as a surprise to some, but other students say they thought on-campus student organizations were “beyond that.”

“I strongly oppose hazing,” said Y’Desha Alsup, 21, a senior public relations student from St. Petersburg. “It is not a surprise at all because it has happened in the past, but I thought we had gotten beyond that and become a little bit smarter.”

FAMU Police Department Lt. Luis Wilchers said hazing “exhibits itself in a great variety of ways” and is not only prevalent in Greek-letter organizations.

However, according to Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Henry Kirby “the majority of reported hazing cases are in Greek-letter organizations.”

There are currently 11 Greek organizations on FAMU’s campus. Kirby admits that within the last four years the national headquarters of several Greek-letter organizations with chapters at FAMU have taken strong action in dealing with hazing cases.

No Greek-letter organization has been expelled from FAMU’s campus, Kirby said, but suspension terms can range anywhere from three to five years – depending on the particular case.

Uncovering the details of hazing incidents is not a simple task. Wilchers said hazing cases are not always easy to investigate since the “victims are usually reluctant to talk and the [perpetrators] definitely don’t want to talk.”

“The key thing you have to remember about hazing is that it is not a criminal act,” Wilchers said. “What I mean by that is you cannot be put in jail in the state of Florida for hazing. But we have arrested various people in hazing-type incidents and we did not charge them with hazing. We usually charge them with some form of battery.”

“Hazing is not treated lightly at this university,” Kirby said. “Hazing is prohibited and there are defined consequences for violations of the hazing rule, which can range – for the person or organization – depending on the severity of the hazing incident”

Consequences for participation in hazing depend on the committee and hearing process administered by the University. Punishment for conviction varies and may include suspension or expulsion from the University, or withholding of grades, transcripts, certificates and financial aid. Information about specific cases is not released until the case is considered closed.

Wilchers said it does not matter how willing victims of hazing are and that they usually know hazing is going to be involved in joining certain organizations.

“They just don’t know how bad it is really going to be,” Wilchers said.

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