Does being asked to pick up an elderly member of your sorority and take her shopping constitute hazing? What about if an organization's new recruits are tasked with building a mountain of bricks overnight?
Those were some of the questions debated by the North Carolina HBCU students who participated in the Jan. 23 "Hazing Hurts" summit, an event designed to increase awareness of the practice and combat it. Hazing has been a hot topic for black colleges since it led to Florida A&M student Robert Champion's death at the hands of his fellow band members in November 2011. From Diverse Issue in Higher Education:
… On January 23, five North Carolina HBCUs — Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central University and Winston-Salem State University — joined together in an effort to increase hazing awareness and attempt to combat it. The summit, entitled "Hazing Hurts" was held concurrently via video conference on each campus.
The 90-minute summit consisted of panels infused with both students and administrators. Serving as moderator for the FSU forum was Dr. Jason DeSousa, assistant vice chancellor for student retention at Fayetteville State. DeSousa is also co-author of a report titled Hazing and Pledging in African American Fraternities and Sororities.
Panelists and audience members engaged in a lively and spirited dialog. The conversation ranged from consequences of hazing to alternatives. The biggest debate was over exactly what constituted hazing.
Fayetteville State faculty member Cherelle Harris stated she was hazed by having to pick up an elderly member of her sorority and take her shopping. Many students in the audience seemed taken back by that assertion, including North Carolina Central senior Jaron Allen.
The political science major from Louisburg, N.C. is a member of Omega Psi Phi Inc. and vice president of NCCU's National Pan-Hellenic Council.
Read more at Diverse Issues in Higher Education.
Editor's note: The month in which Robert Champion was killed has been corrected.