Campus News

New course aims to prevent hazing

By GINA CARBONE

Published February 18, 2020

“The course represents a means for reinforcing information that is conveyed to students in a number of different campus settings while presenting information that is unique to the fraternal environment.”
Pam Stephens-Jackson, assistant director of sorority and fraternity life
Student Engagement

UB has taken a step toward hazing prevention with a new online course that tests students involved in Greek life on their knowledge about how to stay safe when participating in sororities and fraternities.

All students who belong to a Greek-letter, social fraternal organization must complete the online module “Hazing Prevention 101 Course – Fraternity & Sorority Edition.” Administrators emailed the link to the 90-minute course to students several weeks before the beginning of the spring semester.

The course consists of surveys, activities, videos and quizzes that educate and test students on boundaries, and how to recognize and report abuse. The quiz tests students on the different types of hazing, how hazing affects those involved, the penalties for participating in hazing, hazing policies, reporting hazing activity and examples of hazing scenarios. Students receive a certificate when they complete the course.

By offering real-life scenarios and evidence-based practices, the program aims to educate students so that they can make informed decisions, empower them to prevent hazing and encourage them to report any incidents.

Implementation of the required course stems from the death last April of UB student Sebastian Serafin-Bazan, who went into cardiac arrest and died following a suspected hazing incident involving a fraternity off-campus. Following his death, UB suspended the official activities of all Greek-letter, social fraternal organizations; the ban was lifted at the start of the fall 2019 semester.

“The course represents a means for reinforcing information that is conveyed to students in a number of different campus settings while presenting information that is unique to the fraternal environment,” says Pam Stephens-Jackson, assistant director of sorority and fraternity life in Student Engagement. “My goal was to select a product that could be used to share and convey information to students in an interactive way that wasn’t boring.

“From this point forward, all new members will be required to take the course as part of their entry into the UB Greek community.”

Students interviewed by UBNow say the course is informing them about hazing prevention and education.

“I think the course is a great way for sororities and fraternities to learn about all aspects of hazing prevention,” says Ashlyn Oaks, president of Phi Sigma Sigma. “I hope that with this course, hazing can be recognized and avoided to prevent another tragedy.”

Other students say they understood why the course was introduced and were happy to use some of their time during winter break to participate.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect with the hazing course,” says Dominique Matarese, a member of Delta Phi Epsilon. “I was worried it would take a long time, but it was generally quick, and I found it to be very educational. I learned things I didn’t know before, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to take it.”

Students were asked to complete anonymous surveys both before and after taking the online course to determine their knowledge level. Among the questions students were asked was if they would report a hazing incident they witnessed, and if they felt more inclined to prevent hazing.

UB continues to maintain a zero-tolerance policy in regards to hazing and aggressively pursues any violations of this policy. Hazing is inconsistent with the values of UB, the policy states, and as such, the university has established policies to deter these behaviors and enact appropriate disciplinary action when needed.