Dartmouth takes steps to curb hazing - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Dartmouth takes steps to curb hazing

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Dartmouth College is rolling out a new set of reforms on campus to try to curb hazing.  

Future parties at Sigma Alpha Epsilon and all other Greek houses as Dartmouth College may have a surprise guest -- a campus security officer.  It's just one piece of a new policy to try to curb hazing on campus.   

"The walk-throughs are similar to what safety and security already does although these walk-throughs are unannounced," said Justin Anderson with Dartmouth College.

The action comes in response to an March article in Rolling Stone magazine: "Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth's Hazing Abuses." In the article, a student gives graphic detail of what initiation into Greek life is all about.  

"Maybe fraternities and sororities who would have done something like hazing or similar to hazing or have binge drinking or underage drinking might be more hesitant to do so," said Karenina Rojas, a Dartmouth senior.

Rojas supports the new walk-through policy and says it's long overdue. But she also says that plenty of students think it's unfair. "People are just so caught up in the Dartmouth bubble that they don't really -- and their own organizations really -- that they don't really seem to accept or understand anything that the administration does to try to prevent something like, say a student death," she said.

Others, like senior Dani Valdes, say changes are needed to the campus as a hole -- a college where sororities and fraternities have been at the center of social life for a long time.
"I just don't think they are attacking the problem at its root cause.  One thing that they could do is honestly -- build more residential housing, because part of the pressures to join a Greek house is where it is located on campus," he said.

Along with walk-throughs, the college is also working to educate students about hazing by providing a clear definition of what it is. Any of the following are considered hazing if it is a condition of initiation, admission,  or continued membership in any organization:  The consumption of alcohol, drugs, or other substances.  Removing, damaging or destroying property.  Behavior that disrupts college or community activities.  Or, violating any standard of conduct or college policy.
But college officials say in order for the reforms to work-- students have to be a part of the solution.  "What we are trying to do is treat students like the partners they are.  We are trying to share with them the information that we have so they understand what it is that we are trying to do, so that working together we can reduce hazing to the greatest extent possible," Anderson said.

Another piece, which will be rolled out later this fall, is an app for smart phones that allow students to anonymously reports incidents. So while campus security will be doing spot checks, peers may be the ones who end up policing the college's policy.

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