On some college campuses, hazing is one ritual that just won’t die. Sadly, Kansas University currently is one of those places.
Last fall, a KU freshman hit his head after he dived into a makeshift pool at a Phi Gamma Delta fraternity party. That young man now is paralyzed.
Two months later, some members of the group that actually governs KU’s 21 fraternities took turns paddling one another after they’d inducted new officers.
Both Phi Gamma Delta and the Interfraternity Council now are serving two-year probation terms for participating in hazing.
Those probations came with orders. Among them was a requirement that IFC hire a consultant to review the hazing problem in the greek community and recommend initiatives. Some council members also must attend an intensive anti-hazing seminar. The Fijis are required to have an alcohol-free house this school year and they can’t participate in KU events such as intramural sports and Rock Chalk Revue. In addition, there are community service requirements, as well as education programs.
But a nagging question remains: Will fulfilling those requirements be enough to end this potentially dangerous and degrading nonsense? Unfortunately, the actions of the Fijis and council members are not isolated incidents at KU.
It stands to reason that underage drinking and excessive alcohol consumption both play a role in this behavior, but there’s more at work here. There’s a culture of acceptance, at least tacit acceptance, of hazing. For that, every KU student, staff and faculty member must shoulder some responsibility. Where’s the outrage? Who’s standing up and demanding an end to hazing at KU?
Or has KU fallen victim to this complacent attitude: Students will be students, and KU’s no different from any other school.
Why in the world wouldn’t KU want to be different — very different — from other schools that have hazing problems? To say the university isn’t alone is little comfort.
Instead, Kansas University must take the lead among colleges in solving this frustrating problem.
It’s hoped that the university’s new student conduct officer, who started work in January, is the person to ensure the cycle of hazing is broken. Really broken.
Nick Kehrwald promises a more proactive approach at KU. In addition, a new anti-hazing task force has been meeting to discuss the issue.
There’s much important work to be done, for the good of the university and all of its students.