Hazing Awareness Month, looking into hazing on campus

An informative take on hazing

Every semester, Tarleton State University Student Affairs sends out a Hazing Memorandum to inform students of any hazing incidents on campus. 

With the recent hazing incident involving the Purple Poo, one of the oldest and most well-known spirit organizations on campus, hazing has become a hot topic. In relation to the incident, Tarleton Student Affairs is putting on a Hazing Prevention Week during the week of Sept. 27 through Oct. 1.

Hazing is defined by Tarleton’s Student Code of Conduct section 5.7 as “Any act that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student… destroys or removes public or private property… assisting, directing, or in any way causing others to participate in degrading behavior and/or behavior that causes ridicule, humiliation, or embarrassment… engaging in conduct which tends to bring the reputation of the organization, group, or University into disrepute for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with… as a condition for continued membership in a group or organization; or as part of any activity of a recognized student organization, student group, and university program.”

Behaviors that Tarleton’s Student Code of Conduct labels as hazing include hitting another student by hand or object, physical bondage or blindfolding, forcing a student to eat or drink something, abuse or misuse of a position of authority, driving a student to a secluded area and dropping them off and making a student act on something that is against university rules or the law. Knowing the plan of an incident or knowing that the incident occured and not reporting it can also result in a penalty. 

Disciplinary actions that Tarleton will take for hazing include both conduct and disciplinary probation, restitution, suspension, expulsion and even revocation or denial of degree. 

Hazing can not only get a student or organization to face disciplinary actions with the university, but also with the law.

Hazing is defined by the Texas State Law in Statute § 37.151 of Senate Bill 38 (S.B. 38) as “any intentional, knowing, or reckless act, occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student, that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in an organization.” 

Legal disciplinary actions can vary depending on the incident. If an organization is found guilty of hazing, a fine ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 can be issued. 

A hazing incident where no serious injuries to participating students occurred can be classified as a Class B misdemeanor. 

A hazing incident where serious injuries to participating students did occur can be classified as a Class A misdemeanor. 

A hazing incident where the death of a participating student occured can be classified as a state jail felony. 

Tarleton’s history of hazing reports is public access and available on the website. There have been 10 hazing incidents that have been investigated by Tarleton Student Affairs, according to the official hazing reports.

One report on Sigma Chi in January 2018 and one report on Alpha Omicron Pi in October 2019 were both investigated and dismissed because no hazing was found. 

A report in 2017 on two intramural rec softball teams, Shots and Chuggernauts, was investigated. Incidents of hazing, including forcible alcohol drinking, was found resulting in three recruits being hospitalized and four active members being arrested. Both teams were permanently disbanded.

The other seven reports of hazing resulted in suspension with eventual reactivation once the probation period was complete. These reports include the Plowboys in 2016, Lambda Chi Alpha in 2016 and 2018, Tau Beta Sigma in 2017, Kappa Kappa Psi in 2017, Delta Chi in 2018 and the Purple Poo in 2021. 

According to the hazing report, the hazing incident with the Plowboys happened Nov. 11, 2016. The incident included a recruit being blindfolded, driven to a ranch, and sat by a fire. When an active member threw a bottle of gasoline on the fire thinking it was water, the fire became out of control and caused second-degree burns on the recruit. The Plowboys were found guilty of hazing and put on probation until Spring 2018. 

“Hazing can be the biggest impact for the size of an organization. COVID-19 didn’t help anything, but it’s hard to get people that want to join when you have a hazing incident held over your head,” Plowboys president Koll Bickerstaff said. 

The Plowboys now have two separate meetings with administrators at the beginning of the semester to discuss university guidelines and what actions are considered hazing.

The first hazing incident with the fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha (LCA) happened Nov. 5, 2016. The incident involved three active members hazing eight associate members at an event at Texas Tech University with alcohol, intimidation and reckless endangerment. 

The organization was found guilty of hazing and non-hazing violations and put on probation until Spring 2018. 

The second hazing incident happened in November 2018. The incident included recruits being tested on the organization’s Core Values and Creed. Recruits would be yelled at and forced to do physical activity. 

The organization was found guilty of hazing and was put on probation until Fall 2019. 

“I believe [hazing] is bad for organizations because it has caused many physical, mental and emotional traumas and pain for organizations across the country,” LCA Fraternity Educator Adam Vernier said. 

LCA holds risk management and hazing intervention/prevention meetings each semester to understand what is classified as hazing, how to address it and how to report it. 

The hazing report with the sorority Tau Beta Sigma (TBS) happened November of 2017. The incident involved early morning trips, visiting the cemetery and other “Sisterhood Week” events that were against the recruit’s will. 

The organization was found guilty of hazing and put on probation until July 26, 2018.

“Hazing means putting members in a position that makes them feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and not welcomed. Our organization strives to welcome all who are interested and do not wish such ill manners onto anyone,” TBS Risk Management Officer Marisol Rios said.

TBS has risk management training to ensure guidelines are understood and safety measures are taken.

The hazing report with the fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi (KKPsi) happened Fall 2017. The incident involved a scavenger hunt, visiting the grave of Tarleton’s first music director D.J. Hunewell, breakfast kidnapping and paddling of recruits. 

KKPsi was found guilty of hazing and put on probation until Spring 2020. 

“It’s all about being considerate of others. I know I wouldn’t want to go through a hazing process, so why would I put someone else through that?” Vice President of Membership for KKPsi Micayla Kelsey said.

KKPsi educates their members on what is considered hazing and puts hazing prevention at the forefront when planning events.

The hazing report with the fraternity Delta Chi (DC) happened Spring 2018. Details of the incident were not reported. 

DC was found guilty of hazing and non-hazing violations and was put on probation until May 31, 2019.  Attempts to reach out to active members of Delta Chi were unsuccessful.

The hazing report on the Purple Poo happened Spring 2021. The incident involved nudity at the initiation of new members. Although some members consented, the actions are still considered hazing. 

The investigation started March 1, 2021. The Purple Poo were found guilty of hazing and were put on interim suspension until Fall 2022, which means they can only attend events if given permission by the Dean of Students. 

Attempts to reach out to Purple Poo Alumni were unsuccessful.

Tarleton’s hazing policy can be found at https://www.tarleton.edu/studentrules/hazing.html, Tarleton’s Student Code of Conduct can be found at https://www.tarleton.edu/studentrules/code-of-student-conduct.html

Tarleton hazing reports can be found at https://www.tarleton.edu/studentrules/documents/Hazing-Reports.pdf and https://www.tarleton.edu/studentrules/documents/hazing-report-August2021.pdf

Texas State Law on hazing can be found at https://www.tarleton.edu/judicial/documents/NEW-TEXAS-HAZING-LAW.pdf

Hazing reports can be submitted through this incident reporting form: https://cm.maxient.com/reportingform.php?TarletonStateUniv&layout_id=0.