First Look

Campus hazing: Graphic video prompts Indiana University to suspend frat

Hazing has been an increasingly large issue within Greek societies. How are school administrators responding? 

Greek culture has been the subject of heightened scrutiny in recent years as incidents of hazing and sexual misconduct continue to make headlines. In the latest, a fraternity at Indiana University’s Bloomington campus was suspended pending investigation into an incident potentially involving both.

The investigation began Wednesday when a graphic video circulating on Twitter caught the administration’s attention. The Indy Star reported that “credible video evidence” supported allegations that the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity “encouraged a pledge to perform a sex act on a woman while other members watched.”

Late Wednesday night, the university tweeted, that the fraternity had been suspended and that adminstratin officials would be conducting an investigation. 

The suspension prohibits ATO from hosting, attending, or participating in any members' or chapters' events or social activities, according to an agreement reached between the university and the national ATO chapter.

“The video is highly offensive and is antithetical to the values of Alpha Tau Omega,” Wynn Smiley, CEO of the national chapter of ATO told the Indy Star. “If confirmed, the men who were part of such an outlandish incident do not represent the fraternity and damage the fraternity’s name for thousands of other ATO undergraduates and alumni across the country.”

Unfortunately, this is just one of many cases of hazing across the nation, which is not just limited to Greek societies either. Hazing has long been an issue within sports teams and even in other clubs, such as marching band.

And the Indiana University incident, while unacceptable, was not as atrocious as the case in 2011 when a Florida A&M University drum major died after being repeatedly physically abused by members of his marching band. Even that deadly incident, was unlikely to change the role of hazing in college culture, The Christian Science Monitor reported at the time.

“Hazing is so ingrained in various aspects of college life that even egregious incidents...won't be enough to eradicate it, say some experts,” the Monitor reported.

Part of the problem may stem from students' lack of access to anonymous reporting methods as well as acceptance that hazing is a price that students must pay if they want to be a part of special, exclusive groups.

Some professors and anti-hazing experts are suggesting schools and universities shut down organizations, such as Greek societies and marching bands, before they pose further threat.

“It’s not a question of if someone else will be killed, it’s a case of when somebody else will be killed,” Ricky Jones, a professor at the University of Louisville, told the Monitor in 2011. “Are the organizations that important [on campus] that you wait and say, will this hit my campus next?”

 
 
 

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