This year, the College offered new anti-hazing training sessions to Greek organizations. While the the Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities took additional measures to communicate what Kenyon’s hazing policy is, the policy itself has remained the same, according to Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities James Jackson.
The trainings organized by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities took place between Jan. 30 to Feb. 1. In previous years, the Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities explained the hazing policy only to new members but now all Greek students must attend the informational sessions.
The student handbook defines hazing as “any action or situation, regardless of intention, whether on or off Kenyon premises, that results in or has the potential of resulting in physical, mental or emotional harm; discomfort; embarrassment; harassment; or distress to a group’s members or prospective members.”
“I knew that many students hadn’t read the student handbook,” Jackson said. “No one reads the student handbook until they already have violated rules.” Jackson said one of the purposes of having the sessions was to increase student awareness of what the policy is and why it is in place.
“This was the first year that active members received hazing education in an effort to equip the entire Greek community with consistent information,” Laura Kane, director of student engagement and assistant dean of students, wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Some Greek members thought that the definition of hazing given at the session was too vague. “I think it is really general. I think it is a little too broad, but I understand why it is broad like that,” Aidan Murphy ’20 said. Murphy is a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, but said he wasn’t speaking for the organization. Murphy said that activities that might not be considered hazing at first thought can fall under the College’s definition of hazing.
Both Kane and Jackson said they had heard student criticism about the policy being too general. “We welcome feedback from students regarding the policy and educational trainings as it demonstrates that our students care deeply about the issue of hazing,” Kane wrote. “We strive to partner with students in creating a safe, respectful environment for each organization, especially during the new member education period.”
In addition to the information sessions, the Report of Concern, a document used to to report actions that may be incidents of hazing, that was previously confidential is now anonymous. “I think that [requiring names] could be a barrier in how students are reporting,” Jackson said. “All we are asking for is enough information.” There have been no reports of hazing this year, according to Jackson.
Other colleges also have an anonymous reporting process for hazing and other concerning behaviors, according to Kane. “It encourages students and other community members to make a report without fear of retaliation,” she wrote.
Jackson hopes that the sessions helped students become more aware of the policy and that they are discussing it.