Photo and story by Anthony Merriweather / Contributing Writer
MTSU Fraternity and Sorority Life representatives were in the Student Union Building Tuesday to promote anti-hazing efforts as a part of National Hazing Prevention Week.
FSL representatives set up a table with a banner that read, “These Hands Don’t Haze,” and passing students were invited to leave purple handprints — the color that represents hazing awareness.
MTSU FSL joins numerous greek organizations across the country that are likewise participating in the nationwide “These Hands Don’t Haze” campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of hazing. They also invite sports teams, clubs and organizations on campus to take part in the initiative.
“We’re at the point in culture where we can get by without doing stuff like that,” said Jacob Harrell, the vice president of judicial affairs for the MTSU Interfraternity Council. “There are better ways to build individuals and build unity within a group other than breaking them down and building them up.”
The hazing campaign comes as recent national news broke of an LSU pledge dying as a result of fraternity hazing, but Coordinator of MTSU Fraternity and Sorority Life Zak Gosa-Lewis stated that the campaign is not in response to those particular incidents.
“It’s unfortunate that what happened happened at LSU, but the biggest thing is that’s not why we’re doing this,” Gosa-Lewis said. “This needs to happen even if we go for years and nothing happens.”
MTSU’s Hazing Prevention webpage states that “there is no place for hazing at MTSU.” Students can find resources there, such as anti-hazing documentaries, discussion guides and statistics. According to the webpage, 95 percent of students who are hazed do not report that they have been hazed, and more than half of college students involved in teams, organizations or clubs are hazed when they begin their membership.
MTSU fraternities have had issues in the past regarding misconduct with hazing and alcohol abuse in both 2015 and 2016. Sanctions and probations were put in place for the involved parties. Despite these previous incidents, they are hoping to make a change.
“We’re very much focusing on awareness and activism, and we want people to know that even though this is happening in other places, this isn’t what our men believe in,” Gosa-Lewis said. “And, we know that we’ve stumbled in incidents before in the past, and we’re just not about that. Currently, we don’t have anyone, for the first time in a long time … on any kind of probation, no sanction, no anything. We’re just really pushing to make sure that our men understand that just because this happened in the past doesn’t mean this has to keep happening.”
FSL will host Byron Hurt, a documentary filmmaker who will preview clips from his latest project, “HAZING,” in the Student Union Building on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The event is open to the public.
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