Hazing Prevention Week preaches safe drinking: sound familiar?

This week is National Hazing Prevention Week and Geneseo is hosting a full slate of programs and presentations to raise awareness on the dangers of hazing that, according to the College, is any act that has the effect of “humiliating, intimidating or demeaning the student or endangering the mental or physical health of the student, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.”In other words, the things that students do, often unwillingly, when pledging or being initiated into certain organizations. Those familiar with Greek life specifically know that the pledge process often involves the “initiation night” followed by four to six “dry” weeks during which the hopeful new members spend intensive time with the organization doing sometimes humiliating and mortifying tasks, all in a sober state. From basement sleepovers and full-body criticisms to baby carrots and cats, we’ve all heard the hazing rumors; true or not, things happen out there during those six weeks that have nothing to do with alcohol or anything that would pertain to Gordie or the Keg Stand Queens. That said, what should be a week-long schedule that focuses on unraveling the hazing cycle and its psychological and social implications has formed into another scare-tactic attempt to deter students, women especially, from binge drinking. It’s an educational program that feeds into the stereotype of Greek life as heavily alcoholic, ignoring the dangerous psychological abuse that occurs otherwise. We understand that there is considerable overlap between binge drinking and hazing, but we also know that most students are already well aware of the dangers associated with binge drinking, whereas many do not see their hazing “chores” as harmful. Hazing Prevention Week at Geneseo seems to be to a transparent attempt to send an oft-repeated message about drinking under the guise of hazing awareness. In the attempt to deter binge drinking, the College continuously and problematically exploits stories of students who have died as a result of hazing are indeed tragic, deeming the programs as shamelessly manipulative. It is plain wrong to use a person’s death to make a point about hazing that has been made time and time again. These tributes tug at the heartstrings of those watching them without actually educating their audience on how to prevent hazing, what to do if you are being hazed, or why it’s done in the first place. Addressing hazing is necessary, as is National Hazing Prevention Week. While we do not condone alcohol education, we hope that in future years a well-rounded program can be developed that delves into the tradition, continuation and acceptance of hazing, both with and without alcohol. Until then, ineffective programming will continue to allow for real hazing that can be just as damaging and abusive as binge drinking.