Lehigh University
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Greek affairs office wins grant for anti-hazing efforts

A few years ago, Tim Wilkinson received an email from John Smeaton that contained a reference to an article about anti-hazing efforts at Cornell University.

Smeaton, the vice provost for student affairs, asked Wilkinson, the director of the office of fraternity and sorority affairs (OFSA), to consider how Lehigh could become a national leader in hazing prevention.

The university began an intense study of hazing and of the measures for effectively preventing it. The results: the 2014 Zeta Tau Alpha award for Innovation in Campus Hazing Prevention and Education, and a $10,000 grant presented to Lehigh by the national organization HazingPrevention.org.

“As a result of Lehigh’s commitment and the resources that were dedicated to this effort, we are able to make real progress,” said Wilkinson in accepting the award. “We still have work to do. We aren’t done by any means, but we’re not burying our head in the sand, and we’re exciting about continuing our efforts.”

In receiving the award, Lehigh joins just four other colleges and universities that have been similarly singled out for anti-hazing efforts: Florida State University, Drexel University, the University of Kentucky and the College of William and Mary.

The competition for this year’s honor was steep, said Charles Hall, executive director of the Novak Institute.  

“The judges were extremely impressed by what Lehigh put forward,” he said. “We consider it a model program because it included stakeholders from across the university, which is a critical success factor for a campus-wide solution. It was also implemented across a diverse organization and included their intention to using the grant money to help develop resources and educate others.”

HazingPrevention.org established the Zeta Tau Alpha Award for Innovation in Campus Hazing Prevention and Education with a gift from Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity for Women and Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation Inc. The award seeks to:

•    Motivate higher education stakeholders to counter hazing on their campuses
•    Recognize and reward the work of campuses that are using prevention practices effectively
•    Encourage campuses to initiate comprehensive efforts to combat hazing
•    Promote the most effective practices based on the criteria set forth
•    Provide campus-based personnel with leverage to create campus buy-in for such efforts
Lehigh staff members have been implementing the hazing prevention model since attending a number of anti-hazing conferences and hosting the 2011 Novak Institute for Hazing Prevention.

As part of its application process, Lehigh outlined strategies and programs the university planned to put in place with the grant funds. These include centralizing online resources for hazing prevention education, ongoing and sustainable trainings for staff and faculty, an expanded resource center for all student organizations, and creation of program materials and webinars in hazing prevention.

“I am proud of the efforts undertaken by Lehigh staff,” said Sharon Basso, associate vice provost and dean of students. “The knowledge of the prevention model led to the commissioning of the 2012 Campus Hazing Assessment, which nearly a third of Lehigh students completed. This assessment will help drive our newly founded Campus Hazing Coalition.”

Wilkinson also lauded the efforts of Rebecca Davison, assistant director of OFSA. “She does most of the work and gets none of the credit,” he said.

HazingPrevention.Org is a national organization that fulfills its mission through education, resources and strong partnerships. Major initiatives include National Hazing Prevention Week, the Novak Institute for Hazing Prevention, and educational webinars that touch the lives of thousands of individuals, organizations, campuses and communities.

Zeta Tau Alpha women’s fraternity, founded in 1898 in Virginia, has 163 active collegiate chapters, 242 active alumnae chapter and more than 228,000 members worldwide.

Story by Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Thursday, May 08, 2014

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