Fraternity channels TV show to raise hazing awareness

With Rush Week underway, sororities and fraternities will be scrutinized by the University to ensure hazing and mistreatment of pledges is kept under control.

'The Steve Wilkos Show' invited the Gamma Sigma co-ed fraternity to attend a special filming Tuesday that dealt with issues such as hazing, rape and death during Rush Week.

'If you're causing physical violence to someone, I would call that hazing,' host Steve Wilkos said.

Gamma Sigma member Jacob-Jerard Del Torre said he was affected by some of the stories he heard at the show.

'When I was on the show and I heard stories about kids dying. 'hellip; How could people be so loyal to their [fraternity] house and let it affect their actions?' said Del Torre, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

One of the stories described the death of a student due to hazing.

'I think we all learned a lot about the danger of hazing and teen violence. The stories I have heard about hazing at Rutgers, I have never seen come to fruition like I did on the show today,' said Gamma Sigma member Chelsea Germer, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.

Gamma Sigma member Golda Speyer said hazing can occur in organizations that are not greek - such as athletic teams - yet there is a still a stigma attached to fraternities and sororities.

'[Hazing creates] a negative stereotype and does taint the name of greek organizations,' Speyer said.

But the Interfraternity Council is responsible for setting guidelines to monitor behavior and liabilities among Greek organizations.

'The reason we had to join the IFC is because we thought that the Engineering Governing Council was not fit enough to cover fraternities liability-wise; it's a student-run organization just like IFC,' Sigma Phi Delta President Rabieh Saad said.

These rules exist for the benefit of the organizations involve, said Saad, a School of Engineering senior.

'Sometimes [the IFC] can be more of a nagging ear with the fines and the paperwork. If you're trying to do something, sometimes you have to prove it [to them], like community service,' he said. 'Before we were in IFC, I had more than 100 hours of community service. Even though [IFC's] requirements are five hours a semester, it pushes the limit on people who are not interested.'

Saad thinks there should be strict hazing rules even though there are real world realities that go along with college.'

'There are extreme levels fraternities go to for their own enjoyment [when hazing]. There are things done for 'hellip; tradition and others for unity,' Saad said. 'Sometimes, the little issues overshadow the bigger issues.'

Gamma Sigma members expressed that one of the ways greek organizations try to avoid major hazing issues is through the big sisters or brothers that pledges are assigned.

Maria Taranov, a Gamma Sigma member, thinks she could rely on her big sister while she pledged.

'I had a wonderful big sister at Gamma, and she would have been behind me 100 percent if anyone tried to hurt me. We support each and every pledge, so hazing is unlikely,' said Taranov, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.

Drinking, drugs and physical abuse should be the main foci of hazing prevention, Saad said. The present system puts too much pressure on the executive boards of fraternities or sororities to be responsible for the groups' actions.

'If something happens, I can personally get kicked out of school, go to jail and my parents could lose everything they have,' Saad said.

The IFC sets up rush rules for the involved groups to ensure the potential pledges are safe and that no one gets drunk, as drinking is against IFC rules, he said.

'Hazing is an awful thing. 'hellip; You shouldn't have someone do anything that you personally wouldn't do,' Saad said

'The Steve Wilkos Show' will air on Feb. 11 and 12 at noon on the CW.

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