Archive for Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Heard on the Hill: Sociologist weighs in on hazing issue at KU; student recalls lunching with Justice Sonia Sotomayor; KU students offering free tax services; ‘The Big Event’ form available online

February 15, 2011


Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• I had a good phone conversation on Monday with Howard Robboy, who spotted my article on hazing over the weekend.

Robboy is a sociologist from The College of New Jersey, and he serves on the advisory board for Security on Campus Inc., which is a nonprofit organization co-founded by Howard and Connie Cleary. Their daughter Jeanne was murdered in a Lehigh University dormitory.

That crime spawned the act that bears her name, which requires campuses to publicly disclose information on the crimes committed on campus.

Suffice it to say, Robboy wasn’t too pleased with most universities’ approaches to curbing hazing.

He dismissed efforts such as education and the formation of task forces with a term I won’t repeat here.

If campuses were truly interested in solving the problem, he said, here’s what they ought to do.

They should have campus police officers go undercover, he said. (Or work with outside agencies if the greek houses are off campus.) And they should pretend to be pledges and uncover any illegal hazing activity and hold houses responsible.

And that’s where university officials step in, and take strong actions.

“Then you shut the place down,” he said. “That’ll really shake things up.”

He said campuses rarely take this kind of action, and he guesses it’s because university officials like the donations that come in from greek alumni and the fun atmosphere greek houses foster on campus.

Robboy, according to his website, is writing a book about all this, with a special focus on the under-reporting of sexual assaults, called: “Foxes and the Hen House: College Officials and the Exploitation of Their Students.”

I enjoyed our conversation, and thought he had an interesting perspective on the hazing issue KU is confronting. He said his solution would require a campus administrator with “guts” and “a spine” to implement it.

I suspect he’s correct about that much and figured his point of view at least was worth passing along in this space.

• You can typically find some good reading at the Kansas Law Free Press, an online publication by law students.

On the day in which my story about shrinking opportunities for law graduates ran on the front page of the newspaper, comes a nice rebuttal from a second-year law student, in which he points out the value of a legal education.

And here’s a recap of a lunch with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor during her visit to campus last month, in which she explains the subtle differences between racism and sexism.

• Did you make less than $49,000 last year, and don’t itemize deductions on your tax return?

KU law and business students are offering their tax preparation services for free, for Kansas, Missouri and Illinois residents.

The KU Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program saw KU students prepare about 300 federal and state returns last year. The program runs on a first-come, first-served basis. Call 864-9227 for more information.

The students will prepare returns from now until April 18. Here’s where you can find them:

Monday: 6-8:45 p.m., Green Hall, Computer Lab, Third Floor Library

Tuesday: 1-3:30 p.m., Penn House, 1035 Penn.

Wednesday: 3-5:45 p.m., Green Hall, Computer Lab, Third Floor Library

Thursday: 3-4:45 p.m., Ballard Center, 708 Elm St., and 5-6:30 p.m., Lawrence Housing Authority, 1600 Haskell Ave. No. 187

Saturday: 10-11:45 a.m., Green Hall, Computer Lab, Third Floor Library

• A quick update from the folks at the Big Event, that KU project that involves getting students out into the community to do some odd jobs as a thank you for Lawrence residents.

The job form is online, but one of the links in last week’s Heard on the Hill that they provided won’t work. The correct link is You can get a request form there, with a list of jobs students will provide, for anyone, along with instructions on how to submit it.

For priority placement, students are asking residents to submit the form by Friday. The deadline for all forms to be submitted is March 11, in time for the Big Event day scheduled for March 31.

• You’ll never have to fill out any forms to submit tips for Heard on the Hill. All you have to do is send me an e-mail at and tell me something I didn’t already know.


ralphralph 7 years, 2 months ago

Re- Hazing * He said his solution would require a campus administrator with “guts” and “a spine” to implement it. *

Someone with the guts to say that the Greek system is racist, sexist, elitist and violent?

robboy98 7 years, 2 months ago

Allegations that the Greek system is racist, sexist, elitist and violent are not relevant here. I am a Sig Ep brother and have been involved with Greek life for over thirty years. Fraternities and sororities are extremely valuable institutions especially in an era with high rates of divorce, step, single parent and two career families. Hazing is illegal and basically stupid because it jeopardizes the existence of Greek chapters. It also leaves the brothers and sisters vulnerable for law suits as well as injuring or even killing hazing victims. Hazing is defined as tradition and fun by most Greeks, but non hazing events could achieve the same goals.

Most university officials put their heads in the ground rather accept the fact that hazing is a regular practice on their campuses. Likewise the sanctions issued are a joke in relation to the extent of the illegal behavior. Alcohol is a major issue too as under age, excessive and binge drinking are often associated with sexual assaults. My point is to preserve Greek life by having university officials become and acting responsible by monitoring Greek activities. If Greeks are being responsible, then none of this would be of their concern. Howard Robboy, Ph.D. 609-771-2635

robboy98 7 years, 2 months ago

The problem is that we can enact all the laws we want, but they have to be enforced. If university officials enforced the laws already on the books, incidents of hazing, alcohol and drug abuse and sexual assaults would greatly diminish. Certainly there are fraternities that do not haze, but they are in the minority. I once spoke to a Good Old Boy working at the national office of Sig Ep and got the ideology of the "old days" even though the behavior of the old days was very different than the current no hazing policy. Much of this is financially motivated so that the national does get sued. It is for the same reason that university officials look the other way and blame the frat when hazing violations occur.

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