In an effort to prevent hazing throughout the USF community, the Associated Students of the University of San Francisco (ASUSF) Senate passed the Official ASUSF Senate Charges Against Hazing document on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
The initiative was spearheaded by sophomore Jennifer Echeagaray, a member of Senate, Greek Council, and Delta Zeta Sorority. The document was compiled in a joint effort among Senate, the Peer Advising Team (PAT) and Greek Council.
The policy was created on the basis of prevention rather than punishment, Echeagaray explained. She said it’s easy for organizations with new member processes to fall into practices that can be defined as hazing and “Senate felt really strongly that we should take action to prevent that.”
The document outlines the definition of hazing, according to California State Law, stating that hazing is “conduct which causes, or is likely to cause, bodily danger, physical harm, or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to another person in the course of the other person’s pre initiation into, initiation into, affiliation with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization.”
Chibnall said a lot of times hazing is occurring even when students don’t realize it.
As Senate doesn’t have the jurisdiction to enforce the policy or impose sanctions on perpetrators of hazing, the document currently functions as an educational tool and invitation for organizations with new member processes.
Johnny Chibnall, ASUSF Senate President and member of Pi Kappa Phi, stressed that the document doesn’t strictly apply to Greek communities, but all organizations, which will be invited to anti hazing events such as new member education and campus events during national hazing prevention week.
Both Chibnall and Echeagaray were pleased to discover that Senate became so involved with the creation of this document. “It was really interesting to see how many Senators in Greek organizations and not [in greek organizations], really cared about this. It was really cool to see,” said Chibnall.
The difference between this document and policies set forth by specific Greek organizations is that those groups usually follow policies suggested by Fraternal Information and Programming Group (FIPG), which have direct consequences such as a probation period or expulsion, according to Echeagaray. She went on to say, “whereas with this it’s more of like, here are the tools we are giving you so that this doesn’t happen.”
Chibnall said a lot of times hazing is occurring even when students don’t realize it. The document states that the rationale behind hazing can be “based on the principles of seniority or superiority,” and can serve as a rite of passage. “It’s really easy to rationalize, and so hopefully this will be able to allow students to say that this is actually happening to me and can ask for help or know how to deal with it,” said Chibnall.
Chibnall went on to say, “We just want to create a space where people can feel like they can have this education and report it and be aware of all their rights as students.” Even though student senators can’t be the ones to enforce it, they made this policy so that, “Senate can do as much as they possibly can within their powers to ensure that anti-hazing education or hazing prevention is given to as many students as possible,” said Chibnall.
As this document serves as a means for Senate to take a stand against hazing, the document states, “ASUSF Senate does not believe that hazing, in any form, will unite a group in a positive or communal manner…. ASUSF Senate urges all student organizations as well as departments with new member policies and periods to reevaluate those policies in order to eradicate hazing from their practices.”
Junior Claire Posel, the Vice President of New Member Education for Delta Zeta, fully agrees with and supports the anti-hazing prevention policy. “As an organization we do not, and have never, supported any form of hazing. Our sorority was founded because six women wanted to form an organization that practiced and taught love, support, friendship, and empowerment of women,” said Posel, who thinks that hazing prevents trust and sisterhood while “contradicting the concept of empowerment.”
Posel said that in her position, she wants to devote herself to educating the women who choose to join and help them successfully transition into the sisterhood. “Our New Member program is based on caring for the New Members and ensuring their success and comfort within our organization,” she said.
Chibnall said that if there were to be any hazing incidents on campus, that is dealt with through the offices of Student Leadership Engagement (SLE) and the Office of Student Conduct Rights and Responsibilities (OSCRR) because they have step-by-step processes of how to deal with such events.
Both Chibnall and Echeagaray hope to see this policy become a requirement for all organizations upon their registration, along with the continuation of anti-hazing measures, such as the social media initiative they took last fall in which members of student organizations wrote “don’t haze me” on visible parts of the body, as well as an on campus forum put on by USF’s newest fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, which was “an open discussion with anyone who came and talked about what hazing really means and how does it affect the greater community,” Echeagaray said.
Posel said she hopes that other schools and organizations will follow suit and enforce anti-hazing policies so that, “the cruel and pointless practice of hazing is successfully prevented.”
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