In an attempt to limit dangerous behaviors within student organizations, Slippery Rock University has formed an anti-hazing task force. The task force, formed by sports management professor Brian Crow, will focus on educating students what hazing is, the dangers that go along with it and how to report incident of hazing.
Crow, who is also the chair of the sports management department, has been studying hazing for 15 years and formed the task force as a way for Slippery Rock to start being more proactive is the prevention of hazing.
“In light of what happened at Penn State in 2017, I thought we needed to be a little more proactive,” Crow explained. “I got a group of people on campus together with support of the provost and we put the group together.”
Included on the 11 person task force are Crow, associate provost Brad Wilson, marching band director Jonathan Helmick, athletic director Paul Lueken and university police supervisor Kevin Sharkey. Crow and Wilson serve as the co-chairs of the task force and noted greek life and athletics as two areas where students are at the highest risk of being hazed.
“Those are areas of focus because that is just sort of traditionally, historically areas where these sort of activities, in the past, have been seen as part of just what the culture in those areas is,” Wilson said. “There are other areas where it could be an issue as well, but those are, in a sense, part of the focus just because of the history. Our goal at Slippery Rock is to change that.”
Jayne Piskorik,the assistant director for greek life and student organizations, is a general member on the task force and said that tradition is a big reason why hazing is often linked to greek life.
“For fraternities and sororities, it’s deep rooted in the fact that these organizations are hundreds of years old and what was acceptable 100 years ago is no longer acceptable now,” Piskorik said. “Things have changed and what is a tradition can often evolve into something that look completely different and maybe had good intentions behind it might turn into something that is unsafe and humiliating.”
Crow said that the focusing on educating students will help to change the culture in high risk organizations.
“[The biggest thing to teach students] is to respect themselves and respect one another,” Crow said. “I think if that’s the culture we had, hazing would be eliminated. Most of us want to belong to a group and feel like we are a part of something and hazing exploits that and makes people do things they wouldn’t normally do.”
This semester the task force hopes to develop a training session that is about 30 minutes long that they can start showing students, especially incoming freshmen, next fall. The long term goal is to create a university-wide education plan so that every organization is consistent in their anti-hazing education.
Immediate concerns about hazing can be referred to university police at 724-738-3333.