Courtesy: Bethune-Cookman University
Hazing was the topic of discussion last evening at Bethune-Cookman University’s annual Legacy Forum. Students and administration shared insights on the impact of hazing, viewed graphic images of hazing victims, and shared ways that their campus could advocate against the social and cultural pressure of organizational violence and abuse.
Bethune-Cookman President Trudie Kibbe-Reed called the forum an opportunity to frame the discussion on what love and allegiance means, and says the event served as a start point for campus outreach and awareness on hazing. The university has launched an 800-number for students to anonymously report hazing to campus officials, and last night distributed surveys to students at the forum for feedback. Dr. Kibbe-Reed says the surveys, as reviewed so far, have been favorable about the program’s value.
“We had surveys returned to us, and one student responded “this opened my eyes and my head.” The framing of the lecture and the speech was about being out of alignment with Christian ethics. For both the person committing the abuse and for the person receiving the abuse, it’s the same principle of being out of alignment with love and Christian principles.”
Data on the origins of hazing were provided to the audience, detailing roots of initiation rituals that began in Ivy League schools in the mid-1800′s. Dr. Kibbe-Reed called the murder of Florida A&M Marching 100 drum major Robert Champion tragic, but added that hazing culture can only be eliminated by people who feel empowered to report its activity.
“I am a parent with two sons, and speaking as a parent, it hurts any parent to see violence occur with a child.” Mothers put themselves in a place of another mother, and it really does hurt. People think presidents know everything on our campus. We’re only as a good as what people report to us, and feel empowered to share. I felt hurt, and compassion for people in position of leadership, and just don’t know what’s going on. People have to be empowered to speak.”
Courtesy - Bethune-Cookman University
“I, like many, aren’t aware of the culture of young people. We make assumptions that aren’t always accurate. I needed to find out what young people were feeling about belonging. I learned about this culture of silence by reading about these things in the paper. Students may have known, but people of my generation did not. How many of us would’ve known about a culture of silence that starts, we now know, as early as high school? It makes us reflect on ways to have open dialogue with our students.
In an interview with the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Bethune-Cookman SGA President Ebony Minter said that hazing is all about common sense and personal choice.
“It’s about using your judgment and being smart” and doing “what you know is right. Participating in acts of hazing, is not right.”
“This whole thing about getting approval, it could be loyalty, low-self-esteem, a sense of belonging,” said Dr. Kibbe-Reed. “Yes, we have to recondition the thinking of students, and that’s what we did yesterday. If nobody is giving them the flip side of the response, then they can’t critically think about what their participation in this kind of behavior means. A lot of the youth culture promotes ridicule for telling, or breaking a code of silence. We’ve got to look at that as well.”