Hazing Concerns

Reports rise—but the reasons aren't clear.
June 4, 2012

A spike in reports of hazing at Duke—coinciding with a wave of national media attention on hazing on college campuses—has brought renewed focus on an old problem.

Twenty-three reports of hazing have been filed in the current academic year, up from seven in 2010-11. Associate dean of students Stephen Bryan says it’s difficult to know whether acts of hazing actually have increased from previous years or whether there’s simply greater awareness of the issue. In particular, the November 2011 death of a Florida A&M University band member, allegedly as a result of hazing, put a national spotlight on the dangers of hazing.

None of the incidents reported at Duke this year was filed by an individual claiming to have been hazed; rather, the complaints have come from other students, parents, and residence-life staff. Most of the reports were made confidentially through a hazing hotline or an online reporting system. “Hazing isn’t contingent on whether something is forced or voluntary,” says Bryan. “In a number of the cases we’ve followed through on, the people involved didn’t think they had been subject to hazing.”

Alleged offenses included excessive alcohol consumption and forced physical activity. While the majority of reported incidents involve students involved in Greek life, others have come from selective living groups, athletic teams, and other campus organizations.

Investigation into these reports continues. So far, eight groups have been found responsible for violating the university’s hazing policy and have been sanctioned with a variety of responses, including disciplinary probation, restrictions of activities and/or future recruitment, and redesign of new-member education programs.

In a February newsletter to parents, vice president for student affairs Larry Moneta outlined the steps the university is taking to deal with hazing and asked parents to be part of the solution. “As I’ve told my own children,” he wrote, “if my choice is to prevent you from embarrassment by inaction on my part or to take actions that I believe protect you from harm, I will always do the latter. I ask the same of you.”