RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7)— This week is National Hazing Prevention Week. It’s an issue seen at universities across our country, and something that was an issue at Radford University in 2017.
Image from hazingprevention.org
Students in Greek life at Radford University heard from the founder of hazingprevention.org Monday night to make sure they know what hazing is and how to get help.
“Most people aren’t willing to talk about it and still feel ashamed. They blame themselves and they think it was their fault,” said the nonprofit’s founder Tracy Maxwell.
Maxwell founded hazingprevention.org about 11 years ago. She said awareness is important because nine of 10 people don’t realize what they’re going through is hazing.
“We really need to close that gap and help them understand the definitions, be able to recognize it as a problem and be able to do something about it,” Maxwell said.
You might remember an alleged hazing incident in 2017 that led to 17 fraternity brothers being arrested. Since then, the charges were dropped and fines were paid, but the university created strict guidelines for Greek life on campus.
“We’re forward-focused in terms of how we can continue to equip and educate our faculty, staff and students on issues at our campus,” said the university’s vice president of student affairs Dr. Susan Trageser.
“Radford said no, this is unacceptable, and I think that put the bar really high for the rest of our organizations that the things that are being done are changing, and it is not acceptable for you guys to be doing that,” said senior Maddie McDowell. “We have a lot of policies in place that ensure that when we’re doing things, we’re doing it safely.”
“Within the Greek life community, it’s only one community, even though we’re in all different organizations, so we have to hold each other accountable even though we’re in organizations,” said senior Ricky Rogers. “As a community, we can keep our Greek life at Radford to make sure we stay in a positive light.”
Which is why the students say it was important for them to learn more about hazing at the event.
“You can only control so much, but if you educate everyone, I think that is what will prevent it the best,” said senior Cole Morris. “Stay away from it, don’t do it. Obviously they were held accountable for a reason. They did things that were wrong and I don’t want to see it again, nobody does, so just stay away from it.”
“If our conversation tonight sparks more conversations among the students, I think that’s the most powerful thing they can do is to continue talking about it,” Maxwell said.
She said the best way to approach a conversation is to avoid using the “H” bomb, but to rather focus on how you feel.
“You can’t argue with what someone feels, but you can argue about that term hazing and what it is and is not. Starting the conversation in a softer way makes it go more smoothly,” she said.
Maxwell said it’s important to keep the conversation on hazing open all of the time, not just this one week of the year.
If you’re having an issue with hazing, please visit her website for more resources for help: https://hazingprevention.org/.
If you are a Radford University student, you can get help here and submit a tip anonymously
University officials said you can always submit an anonymous tip with the Radford Police or call them if you need help. If you don’t live in Radford, your local police department will be able to help you, too.
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