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June 22, 2021

When we launched the Campus Commitment to Hazing Prevention: Action Guide in partnership with the Clery Center late last month, we heard from leaders about their campus’ commitment to hazing prevention.

Keep reading to learn more about Humboldt State University’s commitment to hazing prevention from Vice President of Enrollment Management, Dr. Jason L. Meriwether.

1. What are some examples of commitment to hazing prevention at Humboldt State University?

It is really important for me to set the tone by being visible and present in the fraternity and sorority community. My personal engagement with Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) members and staff before, during, and after the new membership process is critical and empowers my team as they engage in hazing prevention strategies. This year, in partnership with our assistant dean of students, I personally conducted the hazing prevention training for student-athletes and coaches. This sends a clear message that hazing is a priority for campus leaders, which elevates the conversation and accountability for students, advisors, coaches, and other team members.  

2. What motivates you to be a visible leader on this issue? 

Based upon a mix of my research, consulting, and personal experiences, I have observed a pattern of far too many leaders only being interested in FSL or the direct issue of hazing, AFTER the problem hits. That is the wrong time to be visible. Being present, along with the Dean of Students and even our President, helps us create a culture of commitment and accountability.  The added bonus is that students began to see us as viable options to report incidents if something happens. Sincerely, I’m hopeful that my presence can help to change at least one choice to prevent a harmful action against another student.  

3. How do we get more leaders to take a visible stance on hazing prevention and allocate resources and funding?

Lots of conversations! Dr. Walter Kimbrough often encourages Presidents and VPs to attend FSL conferences. I also believe it is important to actually listen to FSL staff on our campuses before the crisis occurs, and it is important to fund education and resources based in their expressed needs. Molly Kresl, who oversees FSL at HSU is an expert and she has access and influence with the Dean of Students and with me. We also should read the literature on hazing. There are books and resources and scholarly articles that can help us understand the changing landscape and adjust accordingly. On the farm where I was raised we used to say, “an ounce of prevention is worth one hundred pounds of cure.”

4. How do we keep the momentum going for hazing prevention?

Our team consistently makes outreach to national and regional organizations. We regularly attend meetings monthly with system cohort advisors. When nationals are less engaged, my team leverages me as VP to encourage collaboration and greater communication. This is an important tool.  

Peer Intervention is another important tool to keep the momentum going.  Our team at HSU partnered with campus experts to develop a peer intervention strategy regarding hazing. We will host our first FSL Anti-Hazing Peer Intervention Retreat this fall. Our retreat will also focus on policy education since our team has revised our process to require new members to review and be trained on anti-hazing policies prior to any membership intake activities and to remain active as a chapter. 

Thank you Dr. Meriwether for sharing these examples and helpful suggestions for campus professionals to consider as they commit to hazing prevention!

Remember to go download the Campus Commitment to Hazing Prevention: Action Guide – it is a collection of resources to boost commitment to hazing prevention on campus!