UT one of top Texas schools for number of organizations punished for hazing

London Gibson

UT-Austin has had more organizations disciplined for hazing in the past three years than most top Texas universities, but information regarding specific incidents can be difficult for students to get their hands on.

UT has sanctioned 22 student organizations for hazing in the past three years, nine more than Texas State University, which was the next highest university with public hazing information, according to both schools’ semesterly hazing reports. Texas A&M found five organizations over three years in violation of their hazing policy and releases specifics of each hazing incident as well as details regarding the sanctions on the organizations.

Currently, UT does not make specific information about each incident public, such as what occurred and whether or not multiple instances were reported, unlike some other Texas universities. Sara Kennedy, manager of strategic and executive communications for the Dean of Students office, said the office typically does not give out information that could identify the students involved.

“It has been the practice on our campus to not include specific incident details in order to ensure students’ privacy,” Kennedy said.  “It definitely could be that the practice could change in the future, and it’s definitely something that we have and will continue to look at.”

Students looking for details on hazing violations, such as what happened and how many were involved, can call the Office of the Dean of Students to request the information, Kennedy said. However, a request might still be denied if the office decides revealing the information could invade an individual’s privacy, as each request is reviewed case-by-case.

Advertising junior Johanna Cho said if she were a part of Greek life or considering rushing, she would want to have more information on hazing made available to her.

“If I wanted to know more about what kind of hazing could occur during that Greek life process, then having more information given to us rather than just going to look for it on our own would definitely be more helpful,“ Cho said.

The University requires organization leaders to attend a safety education workshop at the start of every year to prevent hazing. At the workshops leaders are given hazing training and then required to teach the same procedures to their organizations, though this is not enforced and the University does not verify whether they do so, Kennedy said.

The vast majority of the 22 organizations disciplined for hazing violations in the past three years at UT were sororities and fraternities.

Peter Stanley, vice president of communications for UT’s Interfraternity Council, said the council actively takes measures to prevent hazing in its organizations. He said all new council members attend a lecture on hazing in the fall, participate in other risk reduction practices and some members also attend a risk-management retreat every spring.

“Hazing is a very serious issue and one which we pro-actively try to combat,” Stanley said in an email. “Hazing can only erode the very foundation of fraternities.”

The Office of the Dean of Students is currently looking to hire a full-time safety educator to monitor UT’s registered organizations. Kennedy said she expects the position to be filled before the start of next semester.