In response to the media frenzy over last week’s Alpha Sigma Tau hazing article, President Tom Courtway backed the student life administration team’s ruling: the video in question did not rise to the level of hazing.
Courtway cited a small segment of UCA hazing policy that defines hazing as “any intentional action taken or situation created to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule” when supporting the decision.
While anyone would agree that a silly prank making new sorority members do pushups hardly reaches an extreme level of hazing, Courtway also misses the point.
Whether the joke was an “intentional action taken” to create “mental or physical discomfort” for the sole purpose of humiliation, the administration is still responsible to uphold its own policies.
There cannot be any bias, any loopholes or any excuses permitted in an administrative interpretation of collegiate policy.
The UCA website makes it quite clear that although some acts may appear to be a joke, the acts are still technically considered hazing.
Courtway admitted it was “a bad joke” done in poor taste and that the sorority has been educated on how to prevent this situation from happening in the future.
However, taking only what members directly involved had to say about the incident and ruling it as a bad joke does not appear to be following policy from an unbiased standpoint.
Allowing a loophole to a “zero tolerance” hazing policy only gives the impression that there is, in fact, wiggle room in the rules.
If the situation had been passed along to the Greek judicial review board, it would have at least shown cohesive administrative support in upholding all facets of UCA’s hazing policy.
The hazing myths outlined on the website are there for a reason, and if they’re not going to be taken seriously, then they need to be amended or removed.
Picking and choosing which hazing definitions are to be followed and which can be loosely defined sends a confusing message to both Greek and general student life about how our administration handles difficult decisions.
Furthermore, Courtway should address that the student life administration team also included in its decision that had senior sorority leadership been involved, it probably would have ruled the situation as hazing.
This is a massive loophole that should not exist. It was also not true, as senior sorority leadership can be heard shouting commands in the video. Although they are not shown, it is obvious that they were present and involved.
Making a simple decision like handing the situation over to the Greek Judicial Review Board would not have made the situation worse or branded the sorority as serious hazers.
It is doubtful that anyone would view the sorority as such after seeing the video.Making people do pushups is by no means torture or the type of hazing that has given Greeks a bad reputation in the past.
However, policy defines pushups as hazing, and now it appears the university is attempting to sweep the problem under the rug. It shows a disregard for the careful wording of policy designed to prevent pranks from escalating.
Doing so would not necessarily call for the sorority to be banned, or even to be severely punished, but if the administration isn’t going to strictly follow all aspects of its policies, then it’s setting a negative precedent.
This article originally appeared in the Sep. 23, 2015 print edition of The Echo.