Campus programming focuses on hazing prevention, action

Geneseo is participating in National Hazing Prevention week, which spans from Sept. 23 to Sept. 27, by hosting several activities and presentations on campus based on the theme “Know. Decide. Act.” “National Hazing Prevention week is a national initiative that was started by the organization HazingPrevention.Org mainly to encourage college campuses, but really any other entity, to focus on hazing awareness and prevention activities,” said Wendi Kinney, assistant dean of students for fraternal life and off-campus services.

“HazingPrevention.Org usually comes up with some type of theme. This year’s theme is ‘Know. Decide. Act.’ Other than that, it’s really up to the campuses that participate to craft their own type of prevention activities and messages that they think are relevant to their college students,” Kinney said.

According to Kinney, there are currently two different sets of initiatives going on across campus. The Inter Greek Council is hosting its U-Knighting for Change week. The college also has a hazing prevention workgroup consisting of faculty, staff and students. These two groups are collaborating to raise awareness about hazing.

Amanda Berg, one of the week’s keynote speakers, held a seminar on Monday Sept. 23 during which she discussed and presented her photo documentary, “Keg Stand Queens,” on alcohol consumption during her college years.

According to Kinney, this was not a hazing program but was held by U-Knighting for Change.

Other activities throughout the week include Party SMART and Gordie Day, which will focus on drinking responsibly and hazing prevention. Lynn Gordon Bailey Jr. or “Gordie” was a student at the University of Colorado Boulder who died from alcohol poisoning in a fraternity hazing incident. His parents established the Gordie Foundation in 2004 after “Gordie” died.

Members of Greek life tabled in MacVittie College Union on Wednesday Sept. 25 to raise awareness about Gordie Day.

According to Kinney, Geneseo has participated in National Hazing Prevention Week for the past seven or eight years.

“It usually falls the third week of September, which for us works really well because it always coincides with the beginning of the new member education program for our Greek organizations, and it either typically begins or ends with Geneseo’s homecoming, so it’s a really good time of the year to be doing hazing prevention on campus,” she said. “It’s timely and relevant.”

In addition to this, the hazing prevention workgroup sent a letter to faculty on campus encouraging them to include the messages of National Hazing Prevention, such as hazing, coercion or power dynamics, into their curriculums, if possible.

“I think that whenever we’re talking about issues of student welfare, like hazing or alcohol consumption or sexual assault, it’s very important to maintain a continual dialogue on these things,” Vice President for Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio said.

“Certainly the college has sent out enough messages so people know its stance on hazing, and the conversations and presentations that have taken place during this hazing prevention week hopefully will resonate a little more deeply with students and make the policies and procedures we have owned a little more [known], perhaps,” he said.

“I think that hazing prevention is such an important [conversation] to be having not just this week but throughout the year. And the hazing research shows that most students come to college having already been exposed to hazing behaviors in high school,” Kinney said.

“Ultimately, it’s our undergraduate students who shape this campus and shape for their peers what is acceptable behavior, so if we could be researching the 5,000-plus students on this campus and really create an environment that says those things don’t happen here, that would be great work for us to always be doing,” she said.