Advocates launch anti-hazing campaign

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Anti-hazing advocates have launched a national anti-hazing campaign following the death of a 26-year-old drum major at Florida A&M University.

While this incident was associated with a band, hazing is more commonly associated with sororities and fraternities.

Arkansas State University Vice Chancellor Dr. Rick Stripling said hazing is not tolerated at ASU from anyone. "If there is a hazing the sanctions that can come anything from expulsion with an individual, that's probably the most extreme, (or) the removal of a group temporarily or permanently."

The ASU handbook defines hazing as:

any mental or physical requirement, request or obligation placed upon any person that could intentionally or unintentionally cause discomfort, pain, fright, disgrace, injury or which is personally degrading for the purpose of initiation into, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition of continued membership in, a group or organization. A person's expressed or implied consent to hazing does not negate the standards above.

ASU sophomore Machita Merriweather said just because hazing is a tradition in some organizations, doesn't make it right. "I don't think it's okay. Alpha Kappa Alpha is a non-hazing organization and so we don't agree with it all."

However, Merriweather does believe hazing policies are difficult to enforce. "It probably would be kind of difficult to police that but it's just something that the organization should know not to do."

"We have UPD (university police department), and they do their best," she said.

ASU freshman Sarah Bird said she would refuse to submit to hazing from any organization. "I wouldn't do it even if they asked me to. I would opt out of the sorority."

ASU senior Eric Cheatham is not a member of a fraternity. "I don't have anything against them. I was just trying to do what I got to do and get out."

But the criminology major said he believes harmless fun has its limits. "In light of some of incidents that have came out around the country, I think you may have to take a little deeper look into it."

Vice Chancellor Stripling said administrators make sure students know the policy by requiring students who are interested in joining a sorority or fraternity to sign a statement that defines hazing. "We want to make sure that the education is out there, want to make sure that they know about it, but we also want to make sure that door is wide open so that they can come and let us know, because again we have zero tolerance."

Arkansas State University students who want to report hazing incidents can do so anonymously by calling the office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at 870-972-2048, or the University Police at 870-972-2093.

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