National Hazing Prevention Week 2019 took place Sept. 23- 27. What some students may not understand, however, is the significance of this annual event. As NHPW is taking place, now is the time to reflect on past events and understand how we can learn from them.
The official sponsor and organizer of NHPW is hazingprevention.org.
The organization describes NHPW is “an opportunity for campuses, schools, communities, organizations and individuals to come together and talk about hazing in their communities, raise awareness about the problem of hazing, educate others about hazing and promote the prevention of hazing.”
In December of 2018, the Theta Delta chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity at Southern Miss was asked to vacate their house so the chapter could be temporarily closed and revitalized. The closure was ordered by Sigma Chi International and was supported by Southern Miss. Sigma Chi was not following the new member education program that teaches members about the dangers of hazing, alcohol and drug use.
From the 2017 spring semester to the 2018 fall semester, Sigma Chi also had multiple violations of university policy on visitation, alcohol and conduct. Multiple reports regarding alcohol and drugs, some involving minors, had been associated with the Theta Delta chapter of Sigma Chi. This contributed to the need for reform.
In light of these events, NHPW conveys a positive attitude regarding Greek life on the Southern Miss campus, however. NHPW is all about spreading awareness about the issue of hazing and working together to find pragmatic solutions.
NHPW is an opportunity for Southern Miss to spread information to students about hazing and other issues involving fraternities at Southern Miss. It is also a chance to prevent reforms like the Sigma Chi reform from being necessary in the future.
“In keeping with its commitment to a positive academic environment, the university has unconditionally opposed any situation created intentionally or unintentionally to produce mental, physical, psychological or emotional discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule,” the Southern Miss hazing policy states.
The Hazing Prevention Pledge can be found on HPO’s website. The pledge is a call-to-action for professors, students and others to speak out if they witness hazing.
In the end, despite the events of the past regarding Sigma Chi at Southern Miss, NHPW provides a fresh start. The celebration of this annual week-long event offers hope and new beginnings for Greek life at Southern Miss. The hope is that people will be able to learn from their mistakes in the past and use the resources provided to them to make a positive change in their university’s community.