In 2021, a Bowling Green State University student was found dead with a blood alcohol level of 0.35, more than four times the legal limit. Eight people were arrested in what authorities said was a fraternity hazing incident.
In August, reports of multiple hazing incidents broke out at Northwestern University in its football, baseball and volleyball programs. The football and baseball coaches were fired.
“I think there’s trouble getting people to just understand that this stuff is really, really wrong,” said Dr. Jason Meriwether, author and editor of “Dismantling Hazing in Greek-Letter Organizations: Effective Practices for Prevention, Response, and Campus Engagement.”
Meriwether will be at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Tuesday, Sept. 26, to lead workshops and discussions as part of National Hazing Prevention Week—which runs from Monday-Friday, Sept. 25-29.
At UTC, no type of hazing is permitted by any organization. It also is against Tennessee state law.
“UTC is committed to supporting our students and providing them with opportunities to be engaged across campus,” said Interim Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Stacie Grisham.
“National Hazing Prevention Week helps increase awareness and reinforces our commitment to work together to foster safe and respectful communities so every student can thrive at UTC.”
Hosting National Hazing Prevention Week is part of providing “positive student experiences both in and out of the classroom,” said Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jim Hicks.
“This issue is one that impacts the student’s ability to be successful in both of those arenas,” he said. “It’s a situation that causes a lot of pain and suffering and one that I think a lot of students and some faculty and staff sometimes treat as just kind of what’s expected.
“We need to make sure that people understand that these are not just little rites of passage. These are activities that can hurt a student’s ability to be successful and impact a student’s relationship with the institution.”
UTC Director of Student and Family Engagement Laura Petrus said the prevention of hazing takes a campus-wide approach.
“Hazing can be present in any area of campus life and is not exclusive to specific involvement opportunities,” she said. “It’s important for our entire campus community to understand what hazing is, the different forms it can take, and what steps are needed to break the cycle of hazing behaviors and prevent its existence on our campus.”
Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Mark Wharton said being proactive is crucial in preventing hazing.
“There have been a number of hazing incidents in college athletics that have shed institutions in a negative light and I am glad to see our University creating a focus on preventing hazing,” Wharton said.
Caroline Hood, a senior in communication at UTC, said she doesn’t hear many students talking about hazing. Her father, Steven, is a former UTC assistant vice chancellor for student housing and current vice president for the University of Alabama’s Division of Student Life.
“I feel like you hear ‘hazing,’ and you kind of know what it is, but if you haven’t experienced it, you don’t know exactly what it is,” Hood said. “So I think getting the word out and spreading awareness is good.”
Hicks said the negative results of hazing reach far beyond the “physical side.”
“I think they understand the image of a pledge paddle or something like that. I don’t think they understand the extent to which there is psychological hazing or other things that can lead to feelings of inferiority or feelings that students don’t feel like they belong,” he said. “And we know that a sense of belonging is really important for a student to be successful academically and socially.”
To stop hazing, a group member—be it a team, a Greek life organization or a social group—must be brave enough to stand up and say, “This isn’t right,” Meriwether said.
“I believe if it’s going to stop, someone in the room has to say, ‘Wow, this is really not going to go well.’”
UTC Hazing Prevention Week 2023—Mocs Don’t Haze
Monday, Sept. 25: Social Media Day
- We encourage each council, chapter, and other campus stakeholders to participate in our social media campaign.
Tuesday, Sept. 26: Hazing Prevention Workshops with Dr. Jason Meriwether. Required for all fraternity and social life new members and one chapter executive representative as a part of New Member Risk Education series.
- Faculty/Staff/Advisor Session, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., University Center Chattanooga Room
- Student Leaders Session, 3-4:30 p.m., University Center Chattanooga Room
- Campus Community Presentation, 6-7:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Roland Hayes Auditorium. Open to entire campus community.
Wednesday, Sept. 27: Campus Outreach Day, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., University Center Lobby Tabling
- We encourage each council, chapter and other campus stakeholders to participate in our Campus Outreach Day. Please encourage your members to stop by our UC lobby table to sign our End Hazing banner and receive buttons and stickers.
Thursday, Sept. 28: Campus Outreach Day, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Lupton Hall Lobby Tabling
- We encourage each council, chapter and other campus stakeholders to participate in our Campus Outreach Day. Please encourage your members to stop by our Lupton lobby table to sign our End Hazing banner and receive buttons and stickers.
Friday, Sept. 29: Campus Photo with Banner, 11:45 a.m., Chamberlain Field Pavilion
- We encourage each council, chapter and other campus stakeholders to participate in our campus photo with the End Hazing banner. The banner will be hung over the UC dining area at the end of the week and the photo will be shared via social media.