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GSW participates in National Hazing Prevention Week activities

From Sept. 20 to 25, Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) students, faculty, and staff participated in National Hazing Prevention Week (NHPW) activities to raise awareness and discuss prevention strategies for the nationwide issue.

“Hazing has no place on Georgia Southwestern’s campus,” stated GSW President Neal Weaver, Ph.D. “I would encourage everyone to educate themselves on the topic. I have read some pretty difficult stories of hazing incidents on other college campuses, and I applaud the efforts of our campus and student leadership to try and prevent that from happening on our campus.”

Hazing can take on many forms, whether physical or emotional, and includes behaviors that are abusive, dangerous, and potentially illegal. It's described as “any action that can intentionally cause embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule” according to the Hazing Prevention website. Alcohol consumption, humiliation, isolation, sleep-deprivation, and sexual acts are common hazing practices.  About 55% of college students involved in clubs, teams, and organizations will experience hazing.

Georgia Southwestern showed their commitment to the cause by participating in several activities throughout the week. Purple is the official color for Hazing Prevention, so GSW students and employees were encouraged to wear purple to help spread awareness. They were also asked to sign the pledge against hazing which is another way to garner support with schools across the country.

Kelby Lamar, Greek life and leadership coordinator at GSW, organized a virtual Hazing Prevention Strategies Forum to discuss strategies on how to help prevent hazing and share GSW’s Greek Life and Leadership Community Policy Handbook. Students in attendance learned what hazing entailed, the state of Georgia’s law on hazing and that it’s a criminal offense, and the anti-hazing policy on GSW’s campus.

“While many people only think of Greek letter organizations or athletic teams with hazing rituals, it is a larger societal issue that extends far beyond the college campus,” said Lamar. “Because GSW is firm and resolute in its stance against hazing, we want to continue to be proactive in bringing awareness and attention to the ways hazing can be eradicated wherever you are.”

Lamar explained that GSW Greek chapters incorporate hazing prevention efforts in their new member orientation education. Many organizations such as Sigma Chi Fraternity invite him to speak at their meetings to share information about the state’s and University's stance regarding hazing.

“Hazing prevention is important,” explains Lane Odom, president of Sigma Chi and the Interfraternity Council (IFC), “because I want to be able to see my chapter and other chapters of the IFC sustain an environment that promotes the ideals and qualities of each fraternity. At the end of the day, we are in the business of building better men, and hazing does nothing to accomplish that goal. Each member and chapter must be willing to hold themselves accountable to ensure that we all do our part to eradicate hazing.”

Last year, Odom attended Sigma Chi’s annual officer workshop in Bowling Green, Ohio where he heard the mother of Max Gruver speak about her son’s fatal hazing incident involving alcohol. “Even though our chapter has never done anything to that extent, it still made me realize that anything can happen, and as the president of our chapter, it is my duty to ensure the safety and well-being of every member in our chapter.”

Odom said his fraternity has a strict no-hazing policy. They participate in NHPW activities every year and help spread the message through social media platforms.