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University convenes task force to address hazing

Large building covered in ivy at a distance during night.
FIRE and the ADL published the letter to President Eisgruber on Thursday, Jan. 25.
Louisa Gheorghita / The Daily Princetonian

In a message to the University community sent Friday, Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun announced the creation of a university Hazing Prevention and Response Task Force, which will work alongside the national StopHazing Hazing Prevention Consortium. 

According to the email, the StopHazing consortium is a “multi-year initiative to support colleges and universities in campus-wide hazing prevention.” Along with Princeton, 10 other institutions — including Harvard College and William & Mary — are partnering with the consortium from 2023 to 2026 to “assess campus climate for hazing and build capacity for planning, developing, implementing, and evaluating data-informed hazing prevention strategies.”

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Additionally, Calhoun wrote that StopHazing researchers “will be present on campus to hear from students and staff in confidential focus groups,” and that student feedback will “inform campus-wide hazing prevention efforts over the coming years.”

“The safety and well-being of the Princeton community is a shared responsibility, and hazing prevention depends on all of us,” Calhoun wrote. 

This announcement comes one month after the University’s biannual hazing report announced that there were “no adjudicated violations of the University’s policy prohibiting hazing” and no violations of “federal or state laws relating to hazing reported to the University” from Aug. 1, 2023 to Feb. 1, 2024. 

In an email to The Daily Princetonian on Feb. 23, University Spokesperson Jennifer Morrill responded to the decreased reports of hazing, and wrote, “the University has continued its ongoing training programs to combat hazing.”

The report only covers a six-month period, which Morrill noted was “a relatively short time frame to identify significant trends,” and that “cases where there was no substantiation of hazing allegations are not listed.”

The Federal Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act requires universities to disclose hazing incidents. In 2021, New Jersey passed a law requiring increasing penalties for hazing and requiring biennial disclosure of hazing incidents from universities.

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According to the University policy, “hazing encompasses a broad range of behaviors that a) may place another person in danger of bodily injury, or b) that demonstrates indifference or disregard for another person’s dignity or well-being.”

From March 2017 to February 2024, the University reported multiple resolved hazing investigations. The report released last March announced that the University had suspended 16 students for violating the hazing policy during a fraternity initiation, with suspension lengths ranging from one semester to two years. 

The same report wrote that dozens of other students received various non-suspension punishments including disciplinary probation, Dean’s warning, and, for students who already graduated, withholding degrees. The report added that many students received more significant punishments due to being “dishonest during the University investigation.”

The other violation mentioned in the report was related to a student organization, where four students who organized an initiation event were found responsible for participating in hazing as members.

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The vast majority of reported hazing punishments were given to students in a sorority or fraternity, which the University does not recognize. The students mentioned in the March report who were part of the recognized student organization received either reprimand or disciplinary probation.

In cases of hazing allegations, the University speaks to involved parties and obtains any relevant documents or communications, according to Morrill. If evidence indicates a violation of the hazing policy, a disciplinary committee will review the matter and the University will notify the student of a pending case and of all information that the committee uses to assess the violation.

Students have the opportunity to submit additional documentation for committee consideration. Those found responsible receive a letter including the committee’s “finding of responsibility” and the associated penalty.

Elisabeth Stewart is an assistant News editor for the ‘Prince.’

Please send corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.

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