Sarah Wild looks around her SUNY Plattsburgh campus before she is handed her master's degree. She also carries around a plaque that reminds her of a time of humiliation.
"In the beginning it was very positive, very exciting. And very quickly I realized what was happening wasn't something I was comfortable with," she said.
At the end of Wild's freshman year she was invited to pledge at Delta Phi Epsilon, but her excitement turned quickly into what she called psychological and emotional trauma.
"I was a bunny; I had to wear bunny ears and carry a carrot. I had to wear this ugly bra and panties and two pairs of socks, and it was embarrassing," Wild said.
"I had pledge sisters who would leave crying; they'd be sick to their stomachs," Wild said. "We didn't know what was going to happen whenever we went. I think that was the scariest part."
Wild struggled to look past what she called hazing and decided in order to take action, she needed to become president of her sorority. She stuck out a second semester at Delta Phi Epsilon, eventually ran for president and won. Once elected, she worked to get rid of hazing.
"The culture of the chapter now is the women are more positive and focused on improving," Wild said.
Her efforts did not go unnoticed. Wild was the 2012 recipient of the Anti-Hazing Hero Award, one of only a handful given out nationally each year by HazingPrevention.org.
The soon-to-be grad says being a sorority woman has changed her life. And the college says she changed the culture of Greek life on campus.
"If you really believe in your organization and the purpose of the organization, you can't have hazing as part of the experience," said Allison Swick-Duttine, the director of fraternity/sorority life.
"We've made major strides in upholding what it means to be a fraternity man and a sorority woman," Wild said.
Turning a bad experience into a national opportunity for change.
Wild says she hopes to continue making a difference. She wants to be director of fraternity and sorority life at another university.
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:24 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:24:20 GMT
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