As bid week comes to a close and “pledge term” begins for Greek life, we must turn our attention to the threat of hazing, which will soon confront many prospective members of these organizations. The University’s hazing policy defines it as “any action or situation, with or without consent of the participants, which recklessly, intentionally, or unintentionally endangers the mental, physical, or academic health of a student.” In light of the hazing-related deaths last year at Cornell and Florida A&M Universities, we need to make sure we are standing up for each other and preventing hazing at the University of Michigan.

At Binghamton University in New York, all Greek institutions were suspended from pledging and inducting new members due to a hazing scandal last year. Students’ friends and families reported the heinous activities the men were expected to participate in to school administrators. Last year, two national sororities canceled their chapters at Binghamton after a review of the Greek culture on campus. Greek life makes up 10 percent of the student population at Binghamton, compared to approximately 20 percent here at Michigan.

Universities across the country need to prevent hazing to their greatest effort. At Michigan, the Hazing Task Force takes “a firm stance against hazing violations” within the Greek community. The members investigate hazing complaints and report to the University’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution. The offending fraternity is subject to probation, suspension or a sweeping ban if found to have engaged in hazing. The involved members can be suspended or expelled from the University. Additionally, the state of Michigan enacted an anti-hazing law in 2004, threatening those accused of hazing with legal actions, including jail time.

While these reprimands are deterrents to those who haze, kicking an organization off campus or expelling certain members is not comprehensive enough. These actions do not reform hazing cultures of hazing, since they only administer punishments on a case-by-case basis. There is a mindset within the university setting that fosters hazing behaviors. Some may contend that these behaviors are an integral part of Greek culture and that one should simply avoid the pledge process if they don’t wish to be subjected to hazing. According to many state governments with laws against hazing, however, a victim’s “consent” is not truly “consent” due to the presence of peer pressure. There should not be any negative stigma associated with dropping out of a fraternity due to hazing. Rather, students should stand up for themselves and for their friends.

During the first week of October, the University will observe National Hazing Prevention Week to “educate students, parents, faculty and staff so that they can more easily recognize hazing.” On Oct. 5, students will wear black and can pick up a maroon ribbon at a table on the Diag in support of hazing prevention. This gesture is a great form of awareness but is not enough to end hazing. We must be aware of hazing, work further to prevent it, and not be afraid to speak out.

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