While nearing the end of National Hazing Prevention Week, Penn State Altoona hosted guest speaker Travis Apgar in Slep on Sept. 26. Apgar is currently assistant vice president and dean of students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. He has traveled to several college campuses telling his personal story about his hazing experiences in college and how important it is to prevent it.
Apgar stressed in his presentation that hazing not only occurs in fraternities and sororities, but in athletics, clubs, and even organizations like student governments.
“Hazing has been thought of as this secret tradition … but the reality is first, we’ve know it’s happened for a long time and chances are if it’s happening in your organization that people outside of your organization or team they know about it too,” Apgar said.
Penn State University has recently been in the spotlight due to the death of Timothy Piazza back in Feb 2017. Piazza was pronounced dead two days after a Beta Theta Pi pledge event where alleged hazing led to his death.
Since his death the University has enforced new rules for all Greek Life some of which include* :
- Starting in the 2019-2020 school year only sophomores will be allowed to be involved in recruitment activities.
- Prior to 2019 students will have to have one semester of full credits to participate in recruitment activities.
- More Social restrictions especially pertaining to underage possession and underage drinking
- Stricter monitoring by Penn State staff members.
- Parent education and a Student Greek life report card
President Eric Barron has also appointed five new members of the Greek-life Response Team to enforce these rules on all Penn State campuses. These members are Thomas G. Poole, Damon Sims, Zack Moore, Keith Morris, and Frank T. Guadagnino. This board will be responsible for initiating new rules for greek life organizations on all Penn State campuses and working with the government and law enforcement to keep students safe.
Apgar told the crowd of 50 students that he thinks hazing is a form of abuse and without any intervention hazing will not stop. His mission is to not only educate students on how not to haze but on how to identify and report hazing if it happens in their communities.
“I hope that it’s all going to remind this community of the importance of doing things the right way,” Apgar said. “I’m glad to see this campus is committed to keeping this conversation going and I hope that what I presented tonight is really helpful to students.”
Something Apgar said that he wanted everyone to take away from his presentation was to “recognize that it doesn’t take hazing to accomplish what you need to in terms of establishing great members and great teammates.”
Penn State still enforces a zero tolerance policy for hazing, according to university rules.
Students can learn more about hazing, how to prevent it, and how to act against it at hazingprevention.org.
*Greek rules found at http://pennstateupdate.psu.edu/greek-letter-organizations/