Northwestern introduces more specific hazing policy

Cat Zakrzewski, Web Editor

Northwestern has updated its student handbook to include a more specific hazing policy for the 2013-14 academic year — but Greek leaders are not commenting on what prompted the change. 

Dean of students Todd Adams announced the alteration Oct. 2 in an email to the student body. The updated policy includes more specific examples of prohibited behaviors, another mechanism for reporting hazing incidents and a clarification on Illinois state hazing law.

“We wanted to update the policy to reflect institutional values and our expectations for student groups,” Adams wrote in an email to The Daily. “The new policy is more descriptive and was informed by several areas across the University, including Athletics and Fraternity & Sorority Life.”

Dominic Greene, director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, and Killian Young, Interfraternity Council vice president of public relations, declined to comment on the new policy Wednesday. IFC president John Cowgill, Panhellenic Association president Monika Buska, PHA vice president of public relations Danielle Nash, Multicultural Greek Council president John Castellanos and athletic department spokesman Paul Kennedy did not respond to requests for comment.

Students can now report hazing violations on Student Affairs’ NUhelp website. The updated handbook entry also includes phone numbers for the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution and the dean of students.

Adams said Illinois law informed the update. The policy reminds students that hazing violations may result in criminal penalties of up to three years’ imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.

The “more descriptive” policy outlines examples of the forms of hazing more generally described in previous versions of the student handbook. The previous policy included several examples and then identified hazing as forcing individuals to participate in activities “not consistent with the University’s mission, rules, regulations, and policies or federal, state, or local law.” For example, the old policy identified paddling as a form of hazing, but the updated version notes any expected physical abuse, including tattooing or branding. The new policy also specifically forbids sexual violations or activity, “whether actual or simulated.” 

Associated Student Government president Ani Ajith said the update to the policy was the beginning of an increased campus dialogue about hazing. He said although he was notified of the changes, other student leaders more passionate about hazing were more directly involved. He noted Greek leaders particularly have been very vocal about anti-hazing stances, as he was during his presidency of Delta Tau Delta.

Although Ajith did not point to one specific offense, he said hazing incidents are reported to the dean of students and handled privately.

“I would not say there haven’t been any incidents,” said Ajith, the Weinberg senior and former Daily staffer.

Currently, he said, grassroots efforts are being planned to involve more of the campus in a conversation about hazing.

“We support students who are passionate about this in their efforts,” he said.

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