In anticipation of their Friday meeting with UT administration, the family of Nicky Cumberland released a letter requesting that those involved in hazing reform be transparent about their personal history with hazing.
This call for transparency, coined the “Declare Your Hand” movement by the Cumberland family, is in addition to other hazing reforms outlined in a letter to the University last Monday.
“Being fully transparent will be uncomfortable and painful initially, but it pales in comparison to the lifelong agony of too many grieving parents around the country today,” Shawn Cumberland, Nicky’s father, said in the letter.
Nicky Cumberland died last semester from injuries sustained in a car crash on the way back from the annual Texas Cowboys initiation retreat. The Cumberland family then requested hazing investigations with the University and University Police, which are still ongoing.
In the letter, Cumberland said journalists and UT administrators have a responsibility to ask about personal hazing history before involving anyone in reform efforts or accepting statements on the issue.
“If somebody is saying, ‘I don’t think this is extreme behavior,’ but they had participated in (hazing) then whoever is hearing that...needs to understand the point of reference of the speaker,” Cumberland said to The Daily Texan. “Otherwise it perpetuates an offender defending bad behavior within organizations.”
On Friday, the Cumberland family will have their first in-person dialogue with the University about hazing reform. Cumberland said the University has been “welcoming (him) to the table” on discussions about preventing hazing.
“I want them to have the chance to ask me about our recommendations and for us start a fruitful dialogue about it,” Cumberland said to The Daily Texan. “There’s nothing right now that I’ve heard from University that makes me think it would be anything different than that.”