Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Student’s hazing story sheds light on Northwestern’s ‘broken’ disciplinary system


Sean Lavery’s face was red with blood. His cheeks and forehead were bruised. A plastic tube ran through his battered nostrils. It was May 19, 2012, and Lavery was in the emergency room with a busted nose, fractured in four places. Two weeks later, he returned for a surgery that totaled thousands of dollars. Overall, he spent about 20 hours at the hospital, according to a written account he gave to the University and, later, The Daily.

The Medill senior doesn’t like to dwell on the details of that night, simply referring to the situation as “an incident of hazing.” But the documents and photos he shared tell a grislier story: After months of pledging Phi Delta Theta and vocalizing his concerns about certain forced activities, Lavery was told to report to the fourth floor of the fraternity house. There, he found a stranger. A brother told Lavery he had to fight the man. Lavery was slammed to the ground. He blacked out. His shirt ripped. His face was smashed.

Lavery did not tell hospital officials what had left him so beaten. He didn’t tell the University until January 2013, when official after official redirected him, before his complaint was forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct. The case remains unresolved, though Lavery has been told that nearly a year after he reported the incident, he should expect a ruling sometime soon.

Phi Delt president Greg Booth was not a Northwestern student when Lavery was pledging. Still, Booth conceded that hazing incidents occurred and said the fraternity is focused on moving forward.

“I would say that in the past, definitely Phi Delt did have some problems. I feel terrible for the people who had to go through that,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “We tried to eliminate all of the members that are associated with that. Frankly, it’s unacceptable for those things to happen ever again in Phi Delt, and in the Greek community in general.”

For Lavery, the experience reflected a broader culture of nondisclosure around hazing at NU — something that goes deeper than one fraternity, team or organization. According to the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention, 55 percent of students nationwide reported having been hazed.

Those The Daily spoke with said NU’s main issues are a slow judicial process and a lack of transparency. It’s a problem Dean of Students Todd Adams — in his second full quarter at NU after a long tenure at Duke University — acknowledges. And one he intends to fix.

“I think you’re going to see some changes,” Adams told The Daily. “We have a responsibility to ensure that cases are heard within a timely way and that students on either end of the process … understand their role in it. …You can come at it from almost any end and say that we’re not as transparent in our process as we could be and should be.”

When the University announced Adams’ appointment in December 2012, the news release boasted that he would “chair the Hazing Prevention Task Force and the Community Alcohol Coalition, which will be formed under his leadership.” Nearly a year later, that promise remains unfulfilled — though Adams did unveil an updated, more specific hazing policy at the beginning of this academic year. Adams said he intends to jumpstart a task force next quarter, along with publishing data on the number of hazing incidents that come through the Division of Student Affairs.

Lavery hopes the task force will illuminate the University Hearing and Appeals System, a decades-old process that handles misconduct on campus. Although those currently and formerly involved in it say it is an effective way of settling student conflict, they admit it has some flaws, including how long it takes for a complaint to lead to a hearing. In his conversations with NU administrators, Lavery said, they admitted the system is imperfect but offered little recourse.

“This isn’t something that we’re trained on as you become a student,” Lavery said. “They don’t say how or why the resources aren’t there. They say the process is broken, and that’s sort of what they have to deal with. It will take a lot to change.”

Blindfolds, ‘blow jobs’

Phi Delt’s pledging activities started innocuously enough, said Lavery, who rushed as a sophomore. He remembers the chapter’s philanthropies fondly and recalls a round of “snow football” that pitted upperclassmen against the new class.

“You were forced to do it, so under the definition that would be hazing,” Lavery said. “(But) there’s no physical harm, it’s not a degrading activity, it’s not anything that attacks the spirit of the person going through the process.”

The first red flag came later that winter. According to Lavery’s written account, Phi Delt brothers termed the event “The Brothel.” Pledges were taken to an off-campus residence and blindfolded. Female NU students — whom Lavery said the brothers called “hookers” —  came in to touch, dance and grind on the pledges.

One student present during the activity confirmed Lavery’s description. The student requested to remain anonymous but said pledges were brought out in small groups and about six women participated.


“There were some girls that were like licking the pledges and lap dancing and all of that, and some girls who were just poking them and afraid to touch them,” the student said.

Then, the women were instructed to ask the pledges whether they wanted blow jobs. Most declined, the student said, but some agreed. Either way, the women brought the pledges over to a table and gave them what is known as a “blow job shot,” typically a shot of alcohol topped with whipped cream. The pledges were then led out, and a new round came in. The student said the entire activity lasted for a few hours.

The student called “The Brothel” awkward and was uncomfortable that older Phi Delt brothers were present.

“There were existing members in the room watching on a couch, so that made the girls feel as objectified as the pledges, sexually,” the student said.

Although the anonymous student insisted the event “didn’t hurt anyone,” Lavery said a fellow pledge told him he was troubled by what had happened.

“He expressed to me that he felt violated, and it was an event where he had no control over what happened,” Lavery said. “The first time it happened was sort of the first alarm bell that went off and said, ‘This is something that needs to be reeled in.’”

In his written account later submitted to the University, Lavery described numerous activities he considered hazing, including one where he says pledges were given finger puppets depicting different races and asked to create a racially charged puppet show. On “Pledge Dad Night,” Lavery said, pledges were forced to eat a mixture of Doritos chips, molasses and rotten olives. Over the next few months, Lavery continued speaking up when he thought hazing activities crossed the line, he said.

“They were sort of shocked that anyone was saying anything, and they were reluctant to discuss it directly with me,” he said. “And then later it just grew more directed, ‘You just need to do what you’re told until you’re done, and then you can change it.’”

Lavery delayed his pledge process until spring because of school and work commitments and expected to be initiated at the end of that quarter. But then Phi Delt pushed back “Hell Week” — a time of intense hazing in fraternities before new members are initiated — until the fall due to final exams, Lavery said. Over the summer, Lavery learned he and the other pledges would endure more hazing when they returned to NU. In early October, Lavery left the pledging process in what he calls a mutual decision between him and Phi Delt.

Lavery admits he was a “rebellious” and “bad pledge” who questioned the older members openly during meetings.

“I wanted to show my pledge brothers that they had a choice. That they didn’t have to do things that made them uncomfortable, or would lead to injury or was against their morals,” Lavery said. “That they weren’t completely under the control of the upperclassmen. That they could make decisions for themselves. That their agency wasn’t completely and totally taken away from them. But I may have been wrong.”

Filing a complaint

In January 2013, Lavery took his concerns about continued hazing to Dominic Greene, director of fraternity and sorority life. Greene passed Lavery’s story on to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, which filed a complaint to be evaluated by UHAS. Lavery received an email notifying him the investigation had been initiated in February.

According to the current system, students may either serve as the complainant or a witness in their UHAS cases. Complainants bear the burden of investigating without University involvement, so Lavery chose to be a witness. But the officials he corresponded with told him that means he is not privy to information about the complaint’s progress.

In April, Lavery hadn’t heard anything from the University. According to emails obtained by The Daily, Lavery reached out to Lance Watson, assistant director of student conduct and conflict resolution, for an update.

“Apologies for the delay,” Watson wrote back in an email. “We have made our final decisions and are moving forward and the information is currently private.”

Lavery also contacted Burgwell Howard, assistant vice president for student engagement. Howard was sympathetic but suggested Lavery meet with Adams, then new to NU. Lavery met with Adams in October, then again with Adams and Watson, and then just with Watson. He told Lavery other witnesses had since come forward, Lavery said. Lavery submitted emails with more evidence of hazing, prompting the complaint to be reintroduced. He said he has been told he will be contacted soon by Student Conduct about his availability to give testimony before UHAS.

Phi Delt’s executive board minutes, obtained by The Daily, suggest the same. On April 22, 2013, Phi Delt officers discussed a “Student Conduct update” and referred to alleged hazing incidents in both winter 2012 and winter 2013.

“The best angle to take re:hazing based on student handbook is to discredit all alleged forms as hazing from winter 2013 as not technically hazing per student conduct,” the minutes read.

The document goes on to outline strategies for handling an upcoming UHAS hearing.

“Don’t spend too much time on old events (winter 2012) b/c can’t really fight them,” the minutes read. “Distance our current chapter from alleged hazing events of winter 2012 b/c after membership review they are no longer influencing factors in the organization and operations of the fraternity.”

Another set of minutes obtained by The Daily suggests Greene — to whom Lavery first reported his hazing — met with Phi Delt. Greene refused multiple requests for comment by The Daily.

Under “UHAS update,” the minutes read, “Met with Dominic and came up with plan for hearing.”

“Ask for deferred suspension … through Spring 2013 and disciplinary probation through Winter 2014,” they continue. “Propose added statement in by-laws about ‘hazing’ related issues warranting immediate meeting afterwards with exec board, President and Dominic (IFC) — bring to chapter for ¾ vote to pass.”

Asked about OFSL’s role in hazing cases, Adams said Greek officials have a dual purpose.

Wildkits 2

“What I would say the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life is there to do is to provide resources and support for their Greek chapters,” Adams said. “Being an advocate for chapters and individual members within does not mean, however, blindly agree. And so working to help educate but also to move the community forward means holding folks accountable. I think that would be the expectation I would have of any staff member.”

Shining a light

Before he came to NU, Adams spent 12 years at Duke University. His last position was senior associate dean in the Dean of Students office, but he was also involved with Duke’s Greek community, leading the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and advising the Interfraternity Council.

Duke boasts a wide range of anti-hazing resources, including a website outlining what the term means, possible penalties, how North Carolina law plays into enforcement, what organizations and individuals can do to combat such abuse, and even hazing myths.

Adams said he immediately noticed NU lacked a central resource for fostering a community conversation on the topic.

“There was a lot of chatter about hazing, as there happens to be on a lot of campuses, but it seemed to be a lot of chatter going out without there being a repository for it,” he said. “What is it that we’re currently doing educationally, from a policy standpoint? What do we do to enforce? Let’s inventory this across the whole university and see what we’re doing, what works, perhaps what’s not working, where there are gaps.”

Adams was quick to note that though Greek organizations have a reputation for hazing due to their histories and rituals, other student groups are just as susceptible. In forming the revised hazing policy, Adams consulted OFSL, athletics and other student organizations, he said.

The new policy is slightly more specific, naming “branding” and “tattooing” as misconduct and emphasizing that under Illinois law, hazing can now be treated as a felony, not just a misdemeanor.

University President Morton Schapiro said in an interview earlier this month he was unaware of the hazing policy change.


“Hazing’s bad. You want to be compliant with the law,” Schapiro told The Daily. “I just don’t know anything about it. I didn’t even know we had anything. It’s in a book? It’s like a student handbook or something?”

Adams said he looks to the upcoming anti-hazing task force to bring together students, faculty and staff across campus for conversations — talks, he said, that could lead to even more changes to NU’s procedures. He emphasized three areas of improvement: policy, education and enforcement.

Most importantly, Adams hopes to begin publishing data on the number of cases Student Affairs comes across — and details of their outcomes — sometime next quarter. That information was freely available at Duke, he said, and could help bring hazing out of the shadows at NU.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Adams said. “Cultural change tends to happen very slowly, with the exception of really one thing, and that would be a catastrophic event. And that’s certainly not anything that any campus wants, Northwestern included.”

A history of hazing

Although catastrophe may not have struck, NU has gained national notoriety for past hazing scandals.

In spring 2006, pictures on the Internet showed women on the soccer team blindfolded, with their hands behind their backs. The photos depicted players dressed only in T-shirts, underwear and white socks at a party, with many of the players covered in marker. In other pictures, women are giving lap dances to men.

The incidents occurred in 2005 but were not made public until May 2006, when the pictures were posted to The team was subsequently suspended.

An investigation led by the Division of Student Affairs concluded the incident constituted hazing under University policy. The program’s suspension was lifted, but some members were placed on disciplinary probation. Others served suspensions from regular season games during the 2006 season.

Under federal law, universities cannot divulge information about specific action taken against individual students.

In addition to student consequences, then-coach Jenny Haigh resigned after heading the team for five years.

That year, the University also disciplined students who performed as NU’s “Willie the Wildcat” mascot for staging a fake abduction of new students hoping to fill the position. The students who had played the role of mascot were subsequently fired and placed on disciplinary probation. The mascot was also forbidden from appearing at several football games

In 2008, The Daily published an article revealing hazing violations as part of Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity’s pledging process. Pledges of the historically Asian-American fraternity were forced to drink jugs of liquid believed to be a mixture of ketchup and Tabasco sauce and perform all-night calisthenics on South Beach.

(Hazed: A Greek Tragedy)

After a UHAS hearing, Lambda Phi Epsilon received a four-year suspension from NU. The chapter has not returned to campus.

In 2011, The Daily reported on incidents during Project Wildcat trips that seemingly violated NU’s hazing policy. During the University-subsidized program — known as P-Wild — several campers got lost overnight, and pre-departure skits involved nudity.

The organization’s emphasis on social unity is similar to that of a Greek group, but former P-Wild co-chair Emily Roskey (SESP ’12) said it lacked equivalent oversight.

Timeline JS by Cat Zakrzewski/Daily Senior Staffer

‘A shutout process’

After a series of meetings with NU officials, Lavery stumbled into the UHAS process, a 44-year-old disciplinary process tailored to NU. The administrator in charge of it, as well as two students who have sat in on hearings, agree it has room for improvement but stand by its overall effectiveness.

UHAS starts with the filing of a complaint by a student, group of students or student organization. An executive secretary — a third party who advises the parties but makes no decisions — reviews the complaint, meets with the parties and makes sure they understand how the process works.

A complaint is resolved through either conciliations or hearings. In a conciliation, the parties settle their differences with the help of the Conciliation Board. Conciliations are less formal than hearings, where parties can make their cases, call witnesses, present exhibits and question one another and witnesses.

A Hearing Panel made up of six to nine members of the NU community is tasked with deciding which rules were broken — if any — and the appropriate course of action once that conclusion has been reached.

Watson said UHAS sees about five to seven cases each academic year. His office does not have “hard” numbers on the number of cases involving hazing because reports of hazing are not always determined violations of the Student Code of Conduct, he said.

Lavery described UHAS as “very much a shutout process,” saying he felt he was kept in the dark as decisions were being made, sometimes hearing about them first from Phi Delt members. He also cited how long he has been waiting for a hearing: 11 months.


“I still don’t even understand it,” Lavery said. “A lot of it doesn’t make sense to me, and a lot of it seems sketchy, and especially as time goes on and you’re not hearing anything, and you’re just told, ‘Oh don’t worry, it’s still being investigated, oh don’t worry it’s still being handled,’ and they’re still allowed to continue the conduct that you reported them for. It gets incredibly frustrating and incredibly isolating, and there’s no resolution.”

Watson acknowledged UHAS is not perfect. He said his office has looked at speeding up the timeline for complaints to lead to hearings, as well as clarifying the system in general for those who are not directly involved.

“We try to be mindful of feedback from students, faculty and staff who have participated in the process (both as respondents or members of the board) and seek to constantly improve,” Watson wrote in an email to The Daily.

Interim measures before a case is resolved, Watson said, are “not done lightly” and only when there is “clear evidence” supporting the complaint.

After a hearing, the board deliberates and votes on a consequence, with each vote receiving equal weight.

The length of each case depends on several factors, including the availability of board members.

For Lavery, the timeline has proven frustrating.

“It’s not fair to the organization … to drag it out for a year,” he said. “It’s unfair for either side.”

Emails obtained by The Daily show how hearings can be delayed on short notice. During finals week of Spring Quarter, students on UHAS received a message about a hearing request for a Greek organization. Two days later, the hearing was canceled.

“This hearing will NOT be taking place this spring (although it could happen at a later date/time),” Jim Neumeister, former director of student conduct, wrote in a June 13 email.

The Greek organization’s hearing request was likely not fulfilled because it coincided with finals week, according to an NU graduate who sat on the board and requested anonymity to discuss its procedures. Issues of availability for board members often push back hearings, but students’ presence improves the fairness of deliberations, the former board member said.

“My expectation was that they should ask students for their input, and I thought in reality they wouldn’t care,” the former member said. “But they did care. I was impressed by that.”

From 2010 to 2012, Suneil Ahuja (Weinberg ’12) estimated he sat in on two or three UHAS cases, including one involving a fraternity. He said the hearings were generally fair, with every party given an equal amount of time to speak, and student input weighed just as much — if not more than — that of faculty members of the board.

However, Ahuja said the time between the filing of the complaint and the start of a hearing can take “forever,” or at least more than a month. Some of the delays, he added, may have to do with scheduling but are otherwise puzzling.

In the case of the fraternity, Ahuja said four months passed between when the complaint was lodged and the hearing was held. The fraternity “made good use of that time to clean up their image” and come up with their own internal sanctions, Ahuja said.

‘Your son will never be in jeopardy’

Although Booth, Phi Delt’s newly elected president, was still in high school at the time, he said the hazing issues his chapter experienced two classes ago are “unacceptable.”

Phi Delt is now strictly against hazing, and the chapter has eliminated all members associated with Lavery’s incident, Booth said. He plans to work “religiously” with his new member educator to ensure his chapter adheres to University policy.

The most important thing Phi Delt emphasizes with its new recruiting process is protecting new members, Booth said.

“When anyone takes on new members, you have to tell Northwestern, tell OFSL, tell their parents essentially that they’re going to join this organization, and they’re going to go through it, and we are not going to hurt them,” he said. “Your son will never be in jeopardy of any danger.”

The Daily contacted the presidents of each fraternity chapter at NU and those of each Greek council to discuss their stance on hazing and reaction to the University’s new policy. Eight presidents declined to comment, and a dozen more did not respond to multiple emails.

The presidents of seven NU chapters — two from IFC, three from Multicultural Greek Council and one from National Pan-Hellenic Council — agreed to speak about their policies. From IFC, Phi Delt and Sigma Phi Epsilon agreed to interviews. All four Greek councils provided statements saying they have zero tolerance for hazing

Although all the fraternities The Daily spoke with said they have strict no-hazing policies, conversations with chapter presidents indicate some still see hazing as a problem on campus, even if it’s not as severe as at larger schools.


“I wouldn’t say it’s a hazing culture per se, but realistically, instances of hazing have occurred, do occur at Northwestern,” said NPHC chair Adam Jackson, a Weinberg senior. “It definitely needs to be addressed.”

At the beginning of last academic year, Sig Ep underwent review by the fraternity’s national organization after exhibiting what was described as “a pattern of risky behavior.” Members were disaffiliated by January.

About five years ago, NU’s old Sig Ep chapter transitioned to the national chapter’s Balanced Man Program, which eliminates pledging. However, the chapter was eventually shut down because it adopted the program on paper but not in practice, said Mark Caswell, president of NU’s new Sig Ep chapter, founded in January.

Like Booth, Caswell acknowledges his organization’s past problems with hazing and wants to move forward.

Although many hazing issues left with the old Sig Ep chapter, Caswell said a “break people down and build them back up” mentality still persists at NU.

“Talking to other presidents, the attitude is, ‘Well, we went through something, so we should have to put everyone else through it,’” the McCormick senior said. “And it’s a stupid, vicious cycle that there’s no point to it whatsoever.”

Like Sig Ep, several MGC chapters say they avoid hazing by distancing themselves from the pledging process. For example, Lambda Upsilon Lambda refers to potential new members as “caballeros,” Spanish for “gentlemen,” instead of pledges, said chapter president Ricardo Rodriguez, a Weinberg junior.

Several presidents said long-held fraternity rituals can sometimes “get out of hand,” and years of tradition make chapters resistant to change. Paddling and forced binge drinking can be part of some rituals but constitute hazing under University and Illinois policies.

NU’s Greek leaders say the greater specificity of NU’s new hazing policy will help clear up gray areas during recruitment and initiation. Organizations like Omega Delta Phi are already very specific about hazing, forbidding any physical, emotional or other abuse of any kind, including exercise and general exhaustion, said ODPhi president Zachary Kisfalusi, a Weinberg senior.

“It makes it a lot easier, especially when you’re outlining new plans, to look at these new policies and say, ‘OK, now what can we not do? What can we do to still help build brotherhood amongst new members?’” Booth said.

A tough nut to crack

Long a staple of initiation rituals for organizations at colleges nationwide, hazing has drawn increased scrutiny in recent decades as experts, victims and research have revealed its harmful effects.

In 2008, the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention released the largest study of hazing to date. With surveys of more than 11,000 students at 53 colleges and universities “involved in clubs, teams, and organizations,” no study before it had “investigated the levels of hazing across a wider range of student organizations and across multiple institutions.”

26 INFOCUS_graphic_NovaHou

The study was supported by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, in which NU participates as a Division I school, and many Greek organizations, of which nine are active at NU.

University of Maine Prof. Elizabeth Allan was a lead researcher on the study. Allan, who co-founded the website in 1998, has done research on the issue for more than two decades.

“Certainly you can have bonding experiences, and you can have initiations and group unity without having hazing,” Allan said. “You don’t have to have hazing in order to create strong bonds among group members.”

Ninety-five percent of students surveyed who identified their experiences as hazing said they did not report the events to campus officials.

Some students fear retribution from members of their organization, Allan said. Others fall through the cracks because they do not know who they should go to if they have been a victim of hazing.

“When I had concerns about the violence and sexual misconduct that was still ongoing, I didn’t know exactly where to go,” Lavery said.

Adams said that culture of silence needs to change.

“We want to hear from students, and the sooner the better. The earlier the intervention can be, the better it is for everybody involved,” he said. “Sometimes if you’re unpacking something later, it can be harder to understand it or be able to access all the necessary people or pieces of information to deal with it.”

Another challenge is the relative recency of prevention efforts, many of which are a decade or less old.

“We don’t know what’s most effective in terms of hazing prevention because we don’t have the research that has assessed to say, ‘OK, if you have this type of workshop, it’s more effective than this type of workshop,’” Allan said. “That kind of data we don’t yet have, and we’re working on it.”

Though she said there is “no silver bullet” to reducing hazing on college campuses, Allan praised Florida State University and Cornell University for their efforts.

Following the 2011 hazing-related death of a Sigma Alpha Epsilon sophomore, Cornell asked its fraternities and sororities to end their pledging processes and created a website listing publicly the hazing violations committed by campus groups.

“This tragedy convinced me that it was time — long past time — to remedy practices of the fraternity system that continue to foster hazing, which has persisted at Cornell, as on college campuses across the country, in violation of state law and university policy,” David Skorton, the school’s president, wrote at the time.

Still, as Cornell can attest, stamping out hazing is far easier said than done. In September, Cornell suspended its powerhouse men’s lacrosse team for the fall season due to hazing violations. Last week, the school announced the dismissal of the team’s coach, Ben DeLuca.

‘A bad taste in your mouth’

IFC organizations begin their recruitment process informally in the fall, inviting potential new members over for Sunday Night Dinners to give them the opportunity to meet and get to know chapter brothers. One Weinberg freshman described the meet-and-greet on Oct. 6 that kicked off the dinners. The chapters had representatives at tables in the fraternity quads and talked individually about their organizations. He said three specific chapters mentioned hazing unsolicited. Two specifically said they were “the only non-hazing frats on campus,” and the third said “we’re one of the only ones that don’t haze.”

“They were almost pushing it too hard,” the Weinberg freshman said. “The frats who probably haze didn’t even mention it.”

But he said he relies on the information from upperclassmen whom he trusts — his peer adviser, who is in a Greek organization, and people in his residence hall who are also in IFC chapters. He noted, however, that it only comes up if he asks about it. In general, he said men in fraternities do not offer up information about hazing.

“There’s always an element of uncertainty,” he said about knowing who was telling the truth. “It kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”

Although he said he appreciates people who will tell him anecdotally about fraternity culture, he believes more information should come directly from the University for students going through rush — about hazing and about chapters that are in trouble with NU.

“It’s information that should be readily available, so that people going through the process of pledging and thinking about rushing know what they’re getting into,” he said.

At the bottom of the OFSL website, a link for “Chapter Conduct Status” redirects to a separate page that describes the current formal disciplinary status of chapters. Five chapters are currently listed on the page, ranging from disciplinary probation to chapter suspension.

The Weinberg freshman is one of hundreds of new students who, in just more than a month, will enter a process foreign to almost all of them. The two freshmen who spoke to The Daily wanted to remain anonymous so it would not affect them as they rush and hope to receive bids from fraternities in the winter.

The hazing aspect of fraternity culture is something this student and his friends have considered “off limits.” At parties, when he hears about fraternities who haze, he tries to change the subject or just move on from the conversation.

But he said he knows other freshmen who may see hazing as an opportunity to build camaraderie between new brothers.

One McCormick freshman who plans to rush said he assumes there will be some hazing but still is not very concerned. As part of his youth group in high school, he experienced hazing and said it was “something I’m not afraid of.”

“I’ve heard that it’s not like at state schools where it can get extreme,” he said. “It’s not the most enjoyable thing, but everyone does it. It’s almost like a thing you can bond over.”

From current fraternity brothers, he has heard about “extreme” incidents from past years but said they were described as “looked down upon.”

The Weinberg freshman said even if hazing was an integral part of every fraternity on campus, and none were any more severe than the next, he’s “perfectly fine with the idea of not rushing.”


“And if I’m going to rush this fraternity and as part of the pledge process all of a sudden they spring hazing on us, I’m walking out,” he said. “I don’t care how valuable the friendships are, I’m done.”

Adams and Lavery both said they want students going through recruitment to be able to make those kinds of educated decisions about where to rush, how to handle hazing and where to report it. Lavery said he has spoken to Adams about the task force and intends to be a part of it.

“You need to treat it as, your students are consumers in this market. You want your students to be able to make an informed decision on which organization is going to be best for them,” Lavery said. “And the organization that is best for them is not going to be the one that abuses and harasses and marginalizes them.”

Update: Phi Delt has been placed on deferred suspension through June 17, 2016.

Editor’s note: Sean Lavery is a former Daily staffer. He last held an editorial position in Fall 2011. Michele Corriston, Paulina Firozi and Kimberly Railey are members of Panhellenic Association chapters. 

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Student’s hazing story sheds light on Northwestern’s ‘broken’ disciplinary system