Last semester during National Hazing Prevention Week, SRU’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) ran a social media campaign on Instagram featuring photos of members of Fraternity Life (FSL). The campaign showed members from each chapter with graphic overlays explaining why they did not haze. Included in this effort was a picture of a member of Sigma Tau Gamma standing in front of a fundraising effort hosted by the chapter during VillageFest on Main Street. The text on the photo read “Brothers of Sigma Tau Gamma strive to be courageous and noble gentlemen who always endeavor forward. There’s no time for Hazing. (sic)” They apparently found time in their schedules as Sigma Tau Gamma received a five-year suspension for hazing after the conclusion of a student conduct investigation, according to an email sent by Jayne Piskorik, assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Student Organizations.
Anti-hazing campaigns like the one IFC ran last semester are not uncommon. Members of FSL often hold events, make posters and sign agreements that decry hazing and the negative effects it has on individuals and organizations. Despite participating in these events, the members of Sigma Tau Gamma still hazed their new members. While raising awareness and denouncing hazing is important, social media campaigns are not hazing prevention—they are public relations efforts.
Our FSL community has provided value to the campus through philanthropic work as previously reported by The Rocket. Members of FSL serve in leadership positions around campus including SGA and UPB. However, anti-hazing campaigns on social media are simply not enough to combat hazing at its core.
No matter how many resolutions students sign or how many posts are shared on social media, these efforts do not actually verify whether or not members of FSL community are hazing. The recent implementation of minimum standards is a good first step to prevent hazing on our campus. Concrete initiatives, including requiring chapters to submit their new member processes, provides an opportunity for administration to detect deceitful behavior and potential members to evaluate if they want to join.
However, this step alone is not a complete solution to preventing hazing. The minimum standards implemented are specific to FSL and do not include other student organizations, which is especially problematic as Sigma Tau Gamma is only one of the confirmed hazing instances on our campus within the past five years. Of the two other violations, one was another fraternity, Theta Xi, and one was the men’s rugby team.
Anti-hazing social media campaigns alone may give the impression that hazing is something our campus has come together to combat. As we can see from the three student conduct investigations within the past five years, it still happens here, regardless of what we see on social media.
As legislative and university prevention efforts continue to take effect to enforce sanctions against student groups charged with hazing, members of FSL and other student organizations need to embrace transparency within their organizations and the community, an initiative that needs to go beyond a flashy social media campaign.