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Campus community responds to hazing

Hazing is a national issue and is known to happen among student organizations and small group programs, from fraternities and sororities to athletic teams.

The most recent reports of hazing at NMSU include last month’s incidents regarding the men’s basketball team. According to the police report, the victim had allegedly been sexually harassed in the locker room on multiple occasions, ultimately leading to the program’s suspension on Feb. 10, 2023. Additionally, there was an incident in 2018 when a former NMSU student was shot by a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity as part of an initiation ritual.

A recent study conducted at the University of Maine shows that over 250,000 students have been hazed in their lifetime in student organizations and athletic teams. (Photo illustrated by Josh Montoya)

In response, members of NMSU’S Theta Chi fraternity gave some insight into hazing and how they expect their fraternity, and Greek life as a whole, to be held to a higher standard.

“Once a semester, we hold a three-day seminar for all of Greek life [organizations] called Novak talks,” said Interfraternity Council president and Theta Chi Vice President Andrew Pantoja. “We learn about alcohol abuse, sexual abuse and hazing and how those three tie into each other, and how they can harm someone and how we can learn to keep members in our Greek community safe.”

According to Pantoja, it’s in every fraternity’s bylaws that attending risk management trainings is required in order to learn how to prevent and approach situations. 

Recent statistics show that 5% of students in college admit to being hazed, and 40% know about hazing activities among other students. According to hazing expert Susan Lipkins, education about hazing should begin as early as junior high school so students know what it is and how to confront situations before they become a bigger issue.

“I think all student organizations should [participate in hazing prevention seminars,] but possibly all students,” said Theta Chi fraternity member Xavier Dominguez. 

Dominguez also mentioned that even the smallest hazing incident has the potential to transform into a catastrophe.

Whether the organization is big or small, there have been instances where student organizations have managed to hide evidence of hazing. According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Maine, warning signs of hazing include unexplained injuries, loss of motivation from normal activities and an overall change in attitude.  It’s important to be aware of these warning signs in order to prevent further escalation that could be fatal.

Members of NMSU’s Theta Chi fraternity come together to spread hazing prevention to the NMSU campus. (Photo courtesy of Theta Chi fraternity Gamma Nu Chapter)

Sarah Edwards, director of NMSU’s Student Involvement and Leaders Programs, explained that all students should feel safe in any activity in which they participate.

“What I want student groups to focus on is developing their members, and learning and growing skills that will transfer for them beyond the time that they’re in a student organization,” Edwards said. 

Edwards said she hopes students are building strong bonds amongst each other that will not harm any individual physically, mentally or emotionally.

“I think every organization whose bringing in new members ought to be having some kind of conservation about expectations of what it means to be in that group,” Edwards added.   

This week, NMSU is hosting a tabling event for survivors of hazing called NMSU Supports Survivors Who Report. The event was organized by members of the NMSU athletics department, the NMSU criminal justice department, including members of the criminal justice graduate student organization, and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Saundra Trujillo, a criminal justice professor at NMSU, helped organize the event. She said teal awareness ribbons will be handed out to students for them to tie around outdoor areas in show of support.

The tabling event began March 21 at Corbett Center Student Union and will conclude this afternoon. 

To report any non-emergency hazing incidents, visit NMSU Report. 

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