What is hazing and why does it exist on college campuses?


Joe Harrington - The Columbus Dispatch (TNS)



Bowling Green State University sophomore Stone Foltz died on March 7 after he consumed “copious amounts of alcohol” during a fraternity rush event on Friday.

Foltz, 20, was a graduate of Buckeye Valley High School and was pledge for the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity. He was found by his roommates in his apartment and was transported to a hospital, where he died the following day.

“The death of Stone Foltz is a tragedy. At this time we are gathering all of the facts leading to his untimely death and we have no interest in commenting on speculation,” a statement from the family’s attorney said.

His death could be a result of a tradition known as hazing that many fraternities and sororities participate in regularly. Bowling Green police are investigating the incident and workers removed the Greek letters from the fraternity’s off-campus house on Sunday.

Hazing has been an issue on college campuses seemingly as long as there has been campuses to attend in the United States. Here’s what you should know about hazing on college campuses.

What is hazing?

Hazing is a ritual that involves risk, pain or harm to gain some form of initiation. It’s not limited to college students. It can occur in a variety of settings, such as work or even family events.

The American Journal of Emergency Medicine defined hazing as: “committing acts against an individual or forcing an individual into committing an act that creates a risk for harm in order for the individual to be initiated into or affiliated with an organization.”

How often does hazing occur on college campuses?

A study conducted in 2008 found that 55% of students experience some sort of hazing. About 95% of cases involving alcohol consumption, sleep deprivation, humiliation, isolation, and/or sex acts go unreported.

What are fraternities and sororities and why do they haze?

Fraternities and sororities, often referred to as “Greek” due to the Greek lettering, are social and networking groups found of campuses. The first fraternity in the United States was Phi Beta Kappa on the campus of College of William and Mary.

Hazing has been a fixture for many fraternities since the 1800s and saw a rise post-Civil War. According to a Medium article, it started as a way for sophomores to needle freshmen and has grown more intense and more alcohol related in the last 50 years.

Not all fraternities practice hazing.

Is college hazing illegal in Ohio?

It can be soon. An anti-hazing bill could gain more traction following Foltz’s death according to The Columbus Dispatch.

“Hopefully, this will be the impetus needed to finally get this passed,” State Sen. Stephanie Kunze, R-Hilliard, told the Dispatch on Monday. “Hopefully, no other family will have to lose a child to hazing.”

A new version of Collin’s Law, named after 2018 hazing victim Collin Wiant, a freshman at Ohio University, could soon be revealed.

The bill stalled in the Ohio Senate’s Education Committee late last year.

There are 44 states that have anti-hazing laws.

How many students have died because of hazing?

Since 2007, more than 40 hazing deaths have been reported according to the Economist. Alcohol poising is the leading cause for these deaths.

The first reported hazing death came in 1873 at Cornell University.

How to prevent fraternity and sorority hazing

Aside from legislation that has passed to make hazing illegal and severe punishment universities can subject Greek organizations and guilty members to because of hazing, there are other ways to prevent it.

Individuals who witness hazing can call the national hotline 1-888-not-haze (1-888-668-4293) and report the practice. These individuals can also email hazingprevention.org and stophazing.org.

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Joe Harrington

The Columbus Dispatch (TNS)

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