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October 21, 2021

As we now find ourselves mid-semester of the fall season of the academic year, we’re reflecting on all the hard work and both the ever-shifting responsibilities and priorities that campus professionals continue to tackle on a daily basis. Earlier last month, StopHazing hosted another virtual Hazing Prevention Academy (HPA) for numerous committed campus professionals who are dedicated to research-based hazing prevention. We recognize that hazing prevention is oftentimes one of many responsibilities thinly-stretched staff are called on to implement – kudos to those who are committed to research-based hazing prevention and thanks again to all who joined us for the HPA!

Today, we’ll share more with you about the HPA, a research-based hazing prevention training grounded by the Hazing Prevention Framework (HPF), delivered by StopHazing staff and guest facilitators who are past and present liaisons for institutions involved in the Hazing Prevention Consortium (HPC). HPC liaisons work closely with StopHazing to move hazing prevention forward on their respective campuses, while also working to develop the evidence-base for effective hazing prevention with StopHazing Research Lab

The first agenda item of the HPA is defining hazing so everyone is on the same page and working with the same definition and terminology. Hazing is defined as “any activity expected of someone participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of their willingness to participate.” There are three components to satisfy the definition (Allan, 2014): 

  1. It occurs within a group context. 
  2. It involves humiliating, degrading, endangering, or harmful behavior. 
  3. It can occur regardless of an individual’s willingness to participate. 

Next, we ground the session in the Hazing Prevention Framework (HPF), the only data-driven framework for hazing prevention. The HPF and accompanying Hazing Prevention Toolkit, a resource developed by Allan et al. in 2018 details the components and action steps of each to comprehensively prevent hazing. The HPA covers three of the eight HPF components: commitment, capacity, implementation. Please note that although the HPA discusses the commitment, capacity, and implementation components, in order to effectively prevent hazing, all eight components must be working in concert with each other simultaneously. 

Let’s take a closer look at the three components and some examples shared at the HPA.

Commitment is “the investment of human, financial, and structural resources and public endorsement of action to foster a campus climate that is inhospitable to hazing” (Allan et al., 2018). Commitment to hazing prevention includes funding and time allocation, transparency, visible leadership, and more.

Dartmouth College, part of Cohort 2 of the HPC, demonstrates commitment to hazing prevention in a number of ways. One example of commitment at Dartmouth is by creating and maintaining an institution-wide hazing prevention website, thus improving transparency of hazing statistics, incidents, sanctions, and prevention education on the subject. 

Cornell University, part of Cohort 1 of the HPC, also has developed a page for their hazing prevention website. In addition to sharing statistics and prevention education, it also keeps track of every incoming hazing-related complaint or incident filed and their outcomes – not just incidents reported with findings of hazing. This provides even more transparency and allows for viewers to understand a bigger picture of group cultures over time at Cornell. 

Capacity is “the development of human and structural resources needed to effectively implement comprehensive, campus-wide hazing prevention in a college or university setting,” (Allan et al., 2018). It is used to develop knowledge and skills to prevent hazing, as well as “buy-in” to prioritizing prevention, engaging a coalition, disseminating information more broadly, and more. 

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), also part of Cohort 2 of the HPC, has built capacity for hazing prevention by developing a hazing prevention coalition called the Hazing Prevention & Education Committee (HPEC). HPEC brings together students and administrators alike to prevent hazing, educate the campus community, and promote resources for supporting victims of hazing. At this time, they are working to onboard additional members across campus to develop the committee further as a campus-wide coalition.

Implementation is “the use of specific strategies and approaches considered particularly promising for hazing prevention,” (Allan et al., 2018). This component of the HPF provides space for institutions to be creative in how they carry out hazing prevention initiatives that are informed by their campuses and students in an evidence-informed manner. Since there is no “one size fits all” approach for preventing hazing across college campuses, implementation strategies are unique as well. For example, one institution may find success with leadership development training for students, whereas another institution may decide to implement hazing prevention through poster messaging and information sharing, or perhaps through educating and training faculty and staff on recognizing hazing and knowing the next steps for intervention or reporting. Implementation strategies should be informed by campus data and the context on campus.

As an example, Dartmouth created a workshop aimed at promoting positive social norms, ethical leadership, and values-based decision-making across a variety of campus organizations as a way to help students connect hazing and hazing prevention to a leadership and values-based issue. Campus data shows that student leadership is a protective factor on campus, so strengthening that protective factor through a workshop to address leadership dilemmas, such as hazing, became an implementation strategy.

Cornell created a social norms campaign grounded in their campus data to correct the misperceived norm on campus about hazing. The campaign used detailed and captivating infographics to share the data-informed hazing narrative on campus, versus what students think their peers think about hazing on campus. The results after just five years improved community awareness on hazing and its prevention among campus goers. 

The HPA, again grounded in the Hazing Prevention Framework (HPF), is one of the numerous research-based services and resources offered by StopHazing. As your institution, organization, team, or school commits to enacting change on campus and starting a movement directly targeting hazing, a form of interpersonal violence, consider accessing additional  StopHazing resources to help plan the next steps for prevention. The recently published Campus Commitment to Hazing Prevention: Action Guide, made in collaboration with Clery Center is a collection of resources to help bolster campus commitment to hazing prevention and help plan, ask for/secure funding, engage students and families, and more. You can also find abbreviated workshop facilitator guides, including the leadership dilemmas workshop here. Additionally, you can download research-based infographics and read about some tips to Build Healthy Groups and Teams

The next HPA will be held in the Spring of 2022. We urge you to consider attending the HPA then, and in the meantime, access our research and research-to-practice resources for hazing prevention for more information. Please be sure to reach out if you have any questions!

Reflection question: What next steps will you take to further prevent hazing on your campus?

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Contributing authors of this blog post include StopHazing Staff & StopHazing Graduate Student Intern, Eric Costa Pimentel.