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Penn State needs to stop hazing now

July 8, 2012

Now is the time for Penn State to eliminate hazing from its campus. Earlier this year A Penn State employee resigned and students were held from spring graduation in the wake of investigations into alleged hazing on campus. The University confirmed that criminal charges were filed and that the University would continue to investigate. The problem has accurately been characterized as an epidemic on out nation’s campuses. Yet these unacceptable criminal hazing practices continue at Penn State – many far worse than this incident that gained national attention – and it is time for the Board of Trustees to take stronger more decisive action. 

Below is a copy of my email letter sent to the Penn State Board of Trustees on July 8, 2012. I will also personally contact the Board members I know in person.

It is my hope that the negative attention of the spring hazing incident, combined with the University’s huge liability for negligence in the student molestation situation will foster a culture of change at State College and that the University will address hazing with the same critical eyes as the rest of the world outside of the University.

***

Marianne E. Alexander

Chair, Committee on Academic Affairs and Student Life

Penn State University Board of Trustees

Via email: bot@psu.edu

Ms. Alexander:

I am writing to urge you and the Board of Trustees to eliminate the practice of hazing from Penn State’s fraternities and sororities as your highest and most immediate priority. My plea comes from the perspective of a concerned parent who understands that the primary responsibility for the safety of my children has transferred from my hands to yours and I urge you to please address this dangerous situation that is simply out of control on Penn State campus.

It is clear that hazing is a practice that would not exist in our society without the quiet curtain of tolerance of the University social culture. Hazing is a disgusting practice at Penn State, contrary to the objectives of our families, the University and the taxpayers of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. At best, hazing involves behaviors that none of us would condone. In reality, the practice of hazing involves unacceptable risks and illegal behaviors as the core of its operation. Cleary there have been elements of criminal behavior and activity in hazing at Penn State that avoid prosecution only because of the protective environment provided by the University’s quiet condolence of this practice.

Behavioral scientists have established that is possible for fraternities and sororities to build strong trusting bonds with new pledges without resorting to hazing. Group projects and other positive experiences can be equally effective in accomplishing the goals of the fraternities and sororities with the same long term bonding impact as hazing.

We have all witnessed the recent tragic results of the University’s failure to take appropriate and timely  action to address community behavior that was obviously unacceptable in society outside of the University culture. It is, in my opinion, simply a matter of time until the University is similarly held accountable to the unacceptable and criminal practices surrounding hazing. Very bluntly, hazing practices at Penn State and child molestation are not so far apart in the eyes of the world outside of State College. By immediately eliminating this practice of hazing you would enhance the safety and educational experience of the students and avoid future legal liability on the part of the University and those who continue to allow these unacceptable practices.

Please take strong immediate action to eliminate the practice of hazing at Penn State.

I urge you to please join me in expressing concern over hazing practices at Penn State. Write directly to the Penn State Board of Trustees and personally contact any individual members you may know who currently serve on the Board at PSU.

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