PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – As part of National Hazing Prevention Week, dozens of athletes and Greek life members at SUNY Plattsburgh are getting involved in awareness events.
Travis Apgar, Dean of Students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, discussed the unseen impacts of hazing during a speech at SUNY Plattsburgh on Thursday. Apgar was a victim of hazing as a football player and fraternity pledge, and has been speaking on campuses for several decades.
“I don’t know that it’s changed as much as I’d like to have seen in the last 20 years,” Apgar said. “We’ve still seen in recent years some of the deadliest years on college campuses when it comes to alcohol and hazing.”
Some Greek life members at SUNY Plattsburgh have been involved in documented hazing incidents. In 2017, 21 members of the school’s Pi Alpha Nu chapter faced charges over alleged rituals that included vomiting and urinating on pledges.
In 2003, freshman student Walter Dean Jennings died from water intoxication after being forced to drink an excessive amount of water through a funnel. That incident occurred in the Psi Epsilon Chi fraternity, which was not affiliated with SUNY Plattsburgh.
During his speech, Apgar recounted similar instances of hazing at colleges across the country. He hopes bringing awareness to the wide range of what might be considered hazing will reduce its frequency.
“You’re reporting on your peers, so that’s obviously something thats frowned upon,” Apgar said. “You’re trying to establish a social network and you think you’ve done that with whatever team or group you’re joining, and the last thing you want is to ruin that, but I think people also know this is not okay.”
On Friday, Greek life members at SUNY Plattsburgh are competing in a coin drive to raise money for hazing prevention. They’ll also be holding a candlelight vigil in memory of Walter Dean Jennings and other victims of violence.
Carolyn Graber, a sorority member and intern at the school’s fraternity and sorority life office, said National Hazing Prevention Week is an opportunity for the campus community to work together for an important cause.
“When you’re in your own organization, you’re closed in with that, so working in the fraternity and sorority life office I’ve gotten to work with others putting together a hazing committee to work with others and stop this whole thing.”