The University is requiring all student group primary and secondary contacts to complete a new anti-hazing module this fall, the latest expansion of its partnership with the anti-hazing group StopHazing.
In 2019, the University joined the third class of StopHazing’s Hazing Prevention Consortium. Although the three-year program ended last year, Brown has continued to expand the partnership through online courses for students and staff and a variety of new initiatives.
Tanya Purdy, director of BWell Health Promotion and co-chair of the University’s Hazing Prevention Coalition, wrote in an email to The Herald that the partnership seeks to “provide a venue and an opportunity for students to find new ways to connect and understand the harm caused by perpetuating” unhealthy traditions.
StopHazing defines hazing as “any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses or endangers them, regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.”
Brown is no stranger to hazing incidents. In 2017, the University investigated the men’s swimming and diving team for alleged hazing, and the Sigma Chi fraternity was suspended in 2019 due to violations of the University’s hazing and alcohol policies, The Herald previously reported.
“Pre-pandemic, we were noticing some trends and maladaptive behaviors (in which) students were seeking connection and belonging and using strategies that we now know of as hazing,” Purdy said.
This year, StopHazing launched the StandUp to Hazing module, an online, research-based course on hazing prevention. The course takes approximately 20 minutes to complete and focuses on “building healthy groups, leadership development and bystander intervention,” StopHazing Operations Manager Meredith Stewart said.
On Sept. 8, the Student Activities Office sent an email to the primary and secondary contacts of all recognized student organizations mandating the completion of the module by Oct. 2.
Senior Associate Dean and Director of Student Activities Joie Steele, the other co-chair of the coalition, emphasized that the module is “specifically designed for student organizations.”
“Our ultimate goal is really just to get this information to students so that they have the skills and information needed to identify hazing behavior and develop alternatives for community building and safe traditions,” said Joie Steele, senior associate dean and director of student activities and co-chair of the coalition.
Liana Haigis ’24, a Herald podcast editor, completed the module as a business manager for the Ursa Minors, one of the University’s a cappella groups.
Haigis noted that the module made her “more aware of checking in with all of the group members about our policies, norms and activities to make sure that nobody feels pressured to do anything they don’t want to do.”
“I think some people will take it upon themselves to check in with their groups, and that may afford some people the opportunity to speak up if they’ve been uncomfortable,” she said. “I don’t think that if there were hazing issues on campus, the course would fix it, but I think it’s a good preventative measure.”
Elsa Block ’24, one of the music directors for the Ursa Minors and the co-president of the Intergalactic Community of A Cappella, expressed doubts about the impact of the module. “It’s a bit naive and optimistic to assume that forcing a couple members of a group to complete an online hazing module is going to change anything,” she said.
According to Purdy and Steele, this module is just the beginning. The coalition plans to implement similar anti-hazing programs for a variety of campus communities — students and staff alike.
In August, the coalition added information on hazing to the mandatory new student training, and the coalition’s partners in the Office of Residential Life implemented anti-hazing initiatives for all members of Greek organizations and Program Houses in late September, according to Purdy. She added that new “educational interventions” will be developed for all athletes and staff members involved in campus life this spring.
Purdy noted that each module will be unique to its target audience and give each group “an opportunity to think through how they want to establish connection within their (specific) communities.”
According to Purdy, the University hopes that its partnership with StopHazing will continue to “provide more and more opportunities for students to think creatively within those boundaries about how they’re going to establish connections and create traditions.”
Julianna Chang is a University News Editor who oversees the academics and advising and student government beats. A sophomore from the Bay Area, Julianna is studying Biology and Political Science on the pre-medical track. When she's not in class or in the office, she can be found eating some type of noodle soup and devouring bad books.