Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hazing is a Crime

National Hazing Prevention Week has begun!Two years ago, Shannon Schott, the Office of the Public Defender, the Honorable James Daniel and Florida Coastal School of Law Trial Team partnered with Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, "ADPI" at Jacksonville University to present a mock trial about the crime of Hazing. The students, who were mostly members of the Panhellenic Council, and Interfraternity Council at JU got to take part as jury members and concluded that the fact of the mock trial, which did not include alcohol, were hazing. ADPI ultimately won an award for their excellent programming, and the students were shocked to learn that hazing can mean prison time.


Shannon Schott, Tricia Rado and Matt Shirk at JU
Hazing is an institutional problem that happens when student organizations want to keep the "traditions" of their alumni members no matter how stupid the "tradition" is, and it's not just limited to Greek Life. Fortunately, national organizations and universities are cracking down on hazing with zero-tolerance policies. Unfortunately, that is not enough for students to quit cold-turkey. The fear of being cast out of the organization by the hazing member perpetuates the cycle of hazing. Typically, the older, more senior members of the organization are the ones hazing the new members. The less mature, new kid who is seeking acceptance at any cost is less likely to speak up.
New members of student organizations need to know that they will be praised not rejected for reporting hazing. It's important for parents, guardians, advisors, mentors, faculty and staff to talk to students about the criminal consequences of hazing and for the members for student organizations to know that hazing will not be tolerated. If you are the victim of hazing or need resources to stop the hazing in your student organization, check out HazingPrevention.org.
 Plata Schott Attorneys and Counselors at Law is based in Northeast Florida. Their attorneys are licensed to practice in Florida and Federal Court. Learn more at www.plataschott.com.

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