MIT joins national Hazing Prevention Consortium
This year, MIT has officially become a member of the Hazing Prevention Consortium (HPC), a multi-university organization dedicated to creating a culture of inclusiveness through data-driven policies and education.
Though it is typically associated with fraternities or sports teams, hazing is far more complex and multifaceted. It takes many forms—some very subtle—but any kind of hazing can have profound, negative effects on an organization and its members. In HPC, MIT will contribute and have access to data from other consortium partners—including Cornell, Dartmouth, the University of Virginia, and Tufts University—to inform its approach, enhanced by the HPC’s prevention model that incentivizes organizational change.
Yuge Ji ‘18, vice president of the Dormitory Council (Dormcon), sees hazing as a shortcut to building camaraderie, and endemic to tightly knit communities. “(W)hen a group of people are very close, it’s easy to not recognize group actions as hazing,” she said. “So as students we should be asking ourselves ‘what are we trying to prevent?’ The key article there is stopping people from making others uncomfortable through forced initiation of any kind.”
Hazing tends to be a secretive activity, so getting organizations to talk about it can be difficult. Students at MIT, however, have been vocal about the need to think differently about MIT’s approach to hazing prevention. The HPC affiliation seems to meet some of those expectations. Interfraternity Council President and Risk Manager David Dellal ‘17 said, “(T)he administration might technically be who signed up for the consortium, but this is coming with very strong student support. In my experience, punitive actions alone don’t really work,” he said, suggesting that MIT and the FSILG community look at hazing from a “public health approach… (as) an issue that involves both mental health and wellness.”
So how does MIT plan on getting ahead of hazing? According to Associate Dean for Residential Education and Residential Life Programs Don Camelio, the prevention model approaches hazing on several levels. “Our goal has always been to work alongside students on concerns presented by their peers,” he said. It also entails benchmarking the problem on high level, identifying communities that might be susceptible to hazing—even subtle instances—and employ the education and awareness as recommended by HPC’s prevention model. The goal is to give institutional support to organizations with a propensity for hazing to report and confront the behavior without affecting group identity.
To implement the prevention model will take time and cooperation between staff and students. In true MIT spirit, Ji says that MIT students are ready to try a new approach. “Rules and regulations don’t always get to the core of an issue,” she said. “So while MIT students are already very conscious of hazing, I welcome anything that on a broader scale will force a conversation about inclusion.”
Written by Dan Kilbridge.
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