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New hazing policy seeks to clarify expectations

Nick Shiach
Contributing Writer

The College has implemented a new hazing policy that expands the definition of hazing to include situations previously not covered.

The new policy was approved unanimously by Campus Council on April 20, 2017, and took effect on the first day of this semester.

In addition to the policy changes, Craig Lutz will be replacing Joe Kirk as the director of Greek life and a new-member/anti-hazing task force will be assembled.

According to Jordan Griffith ’19, the chair of Campus Council, “the old policy did not provide specific examples or outline Ohio’s laws against hazing,” which are both areas the new policy now addresses.

During the 2017 spring semester, the College’s hazing policy and its enforcement became a major point of controversy and confusion on campus. Dean of Students Scott Brown played a role in the proceedings after he said he “received multiple reports from students and others” that some Greek life new-member activities were “causing a disruption in the lives of the students and impacting their ability to be successful.”

While the controversies unfolded, Campus Council undertook a year-long, previously planned review of the entire Scot’s Key, which included an update to the hazing policy. According to Griffith, the goal of the review was to make the policy “more accurate, comprehensive and in line with best practices.”

The new definition of hazing retains some points from the old policy. Hazing can occur “regardless of the intent or end result” of the activity and whether or not it took place on campus. Both Ohio and Wooster law continue to define hazing, in part, as any activity that “causes or creates a substantial risk of mental or physical harm” (R.C. § 2903.31). Unlike the previous policy, the new Scot’s Key does not cite Ohio law for the use of the law’s exact wording.

However, the new policy adds that hazing can occur “whether or not the act is voluntarily agreed upon.” This is consistent with Ohio civil law, which states that the “consent of the plaintiff or any assumption of the risk by the plaintiff is not a defense” of hazing (R.C. § 2307.44).

The definition of hazing has also been expanded to encompass “behavior [that] exhibits and/or includes force, coercion, or restrictions on freedom of movement, speech or the management of daily needs.” The policy goes on to enumerate specific examples of hazing, which include “creation of excessive fatigue [. . .], wearing of public apparel or costumes that would not normally be worn [. . .], monitoring of individual member actions, engaging in public stunts [. . .], missions [and] treasure hunts/scavenger hunts.”

“[T]he new hazing policy clearly lays out the expectations of what is or could be considered hazing,” said Dean Brown.

The Executive Board of the Inter-Greek Council declined to provide a comment for this article.

Dean Brown reminded students to “step in when they see things that are dangerous, humiliate, control or are antithetical to our values,” stressing that hazing “will not only be ineffective at creating the community you seek or enhancing higher performance from your peers, it will also not be tolerated.”

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