Mary Breaux Wright
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated
It is our responsibility, as a community-conscious and action- oriented organization, to safeguard Zeta Phi Beta Sorority’s legacy by exemplifying positive images of the sorority and the highest ideals of Finer Womanhood. Therefore, the culture of hazing is counterproductive to these efforts.
Scarlet H. Black
National Director of Anti-Hazing “Finer Women Don’t Haze”
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
“Finer Women Don’t Haze” was developed around Zeta Phi Beta Sorority’s founding principle of “Finer Womanhood” and to provide immediate attention on the culture of hazing that continues to display itself in our communities, organizations, and society as a whole. As we move closer to our Centennial in 2020, we must take every opportunity to redouble our collective efforts to eradicate hazing in any form or fashion regardless of where it is found.
NEW COMPLAINT & DISCIPLINE POLICY SUMMARY
This document summarizes the reporting, investigation, and potential disciplinary actions for violations of the rules, policies, and/or principles of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated (the “Sorority”) by members and individuals who are seeking membership. This includes, but is not limited to, violations of the Sorority’s anti-hazing policies.
- A member’s failure to follow policies and procedures described in our Constitution & Bylaws, Handbook, Code of Conduct, Policy Against Hazing, and other documents can result in disciplinary action taken by the Sorority.
FAQS & Resources
what is hazing?
Hazing is often linked to sororities, fraternities, bands, social clubs, sports, military, and other organized associations. However, what hazing is really takes on different meanings depending on who is doing the hazing and who is being hazed. For our purposes in Finer Women Don’t Haze, a few definitions of hazing are noted below.
the definition of hazing varies from state to state:
Hazing has been defined as an abusive, often humiliating, form of initiation into or affiliation with a group. It can include any willful action taken or situation created which recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health of another.
zeta phi beta sorority’s position on hazing:
Hazing in any form or fashion is contrary to the philosophy and objectives of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, and as such, the Sorority emphatically prohibits and denounces hazing. Therefore, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority defines hazing as any action or activity which…
- brings about physical, mental, emotional or psychological harm to the potential member or is humiliating in its intent;
- is vulgar, abusive, physically exhausting or dangerous;
- materially disrupts an individual’s academic, professional, and personal endeavors;
- abridges a person’s moral, religious or dietary beliefs;
- compels an individual to break the rules and regulations of her college or university, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated or other entities; or
- is defined as hazing under applicable laws.
national pan-hellenic council, council of presidents official statement on what is hazing?
WHEREAS the definition of hazing has been held to include any action taken or situation created that involves or results in abusive, physical contact or mutual harassment of a prospective Fraternity or Sorority member; and that any such action is considered hazing, whether it occurs on or off the Fraternity or Sorority premises, campus or place where chapters or prospective members meet; and that hazing has also been described to include any action that results in excessive mutual or physical discomfort, embarrassment or harassment; that such activities include, but are not limited to paddling, creation of excessive fatigue, physical or psychological shock, morally degrading or humiliating activities, late work sessions that interfere with scholastic activities and any other activities inconsistent with fraternal law and regulations and policies of the affiliated educational institution and federal, state or local laws.
hazing laws and penalties
It is important to become familiar with the laws in your own state surrounding hazing and the subsequent penalties that are the result of these laws. Currently, there are forty-four (44) states that have anti-hazing laws. Some of these states have very strict laws where hazing constitutes a felony and “jail” time could be a consequence. Others consider hazing a misdemeanor. It should also be noted there is no federal law against hazing. However, in 2012, U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, a Democrat from Tallahassee, Florida, representing the 17th District, proposed legislation for a federal anti-hazing law. The proposed legislation, known as “Halting Hazing Act of 2012”, would end financial aid for students who participate in hazing. A conviction of hazing would also be a felony. While a federal anti-hazing law has yet to be passed, in her proposed legislation, Congresswoman Wilson pointed out there have been 163 deaths attributed to hazing since the 1800’s. She noted that one incident is one too many.
THE HAZING OF SADIE (A Pseudonym)
Sadie, age 19, was hazed by members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. Sorority members failed to notice on her medical form, found inside her intake packet, that she suffered from Asthma attacks, particularly when overstressed. Sadie was forced, along with the other seven aspirants, to go through excessive exercises. After running up and down the steps of the football stadium, around 11:00 p.m. that night, Sadie had a horrible Asthma attack and became extremely weak. Sadie’s nebulizer was in her handbag. The handbag was still in the car of the Soror who drove Sadie and three of the Aspirants to the stadium. Out of fear, another aspirant got Sadie to the hospital. However, the Sorority members and the remaining Aspirants chose not to disclose the incident and kept silent. It was a close call and Sadie was kept hospitalized for three days. Her parents were called and drove several hours to get to where Sadie was enrolled in school. Both of Sadie’s parents are members of historic black Greek-letter organizations and demanded an investigation of Sadie’s intake process. It was Sadie’s parents who made the report to the Chapter Basileus of the sponsoring graduate chapter.
The incident was reported through the Sorority’s disciplinary protocols (see Section 5 of the 14th Edition of the National Handbook). The intake process was “shut down” immediately and an investigation ensued. The chapter has been placed on suspension and three members are facing possible expulsion. This was a close call with Sadie and if the aspirant had not gotten Sadie to the hospital, the situation would have netted different results.
Discussion (Separate into smaller groups and discuss for 15 minutes. Come back into the larger group and share your discussions)
When a parent nearly loses a child, or have a child badly hurt, they look at the evening/incidences and wonder who was to blame. Lawyers are hired and, essentially, they start at the end of the evening and work towards the beginning. As a participant in this discussion, why did this happen? What was the reason for it and knowing it is against the Sorority’s anti- hazing policies? Ultimately, what would have happened if she did not get immediate medical attention and would the silence have continued? So, work backwards and tell me who is to blame and were the consequences severe enough for this situation? What would you have done?
How do we prevent Sadie’s situation? The goal is prevention and are you able to tell how to prevent by filling in the blanks and provide specific procedures in line with the Sorority’s Anti-Hazing Policies, Risk Management Policy and Disciplinary Conduct? Remember, we must all STAND UP AGAINST HAZING!!
Archived Case Studies
However, lessons were not learned. Following the reinstatement of the undergraduate chapter,
Soror X and the current members of the undergraduate chapter also reinstated their old ways of doing membership intake and the hazing resumed. Another report was made and another intense investigation followed. In fact, one parent filed a formal complaint about his daughter. The parent is a member of another Greek-letter organization and is very familiar with the membership intake process among the Greek-letter organizations. The chapter is now on another suspension and the length of the suspension is now five years.
It would be reassuring if this was an isolated case. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Members of our Sorority are made well aware of the policies and procedures taken against hazing in any form and aspirants are also informed of their responsibilities to not be hazed or participate in such behavior. The question remains…….WHY DO IT AND IS IT WORTH IT?
Case Study Discussion Questions:
- What was the responsibility of the both the Undergraduate Chapter and the sponsoring Graduate Chapter in this case?
- What was the responsibility of the Undergraduate Advisors and the Aspirants themselves?
- What could have been done to keep Soror X from participating in the intake process?
- Should the chapter be reinstated after this current suspension? If so, what should be done to end hazing behavior in going forward?
- What steps can be implemented to keep this chapter “online”?
- How can this chapter create a better image in the university community and in the Sorority?
A young woman was a student at a large university. As an African-American at an institution with a very small minority population, she was seeking a way to belong and fit in, and membership in an NPHC Sorority seemed to offer that opportunity. She was assured that the intake process would be safe and would include no violence or hazing.
At first, the intake process followed the guidelines described in the Sorority’s application materials. But then, graduate members showed up one evening. They called the new sorors paper, not real members. They told the officers that the only way a black woman could gain respect among her peers in the community was to be made the real way. They seemed to say, ”I experienced it, and if this person is going to be a legitimate member, they must experience this, too.”
At that point, the intake experience changed dramatically. According to the young woman, over the course of the next several weeks:
- Graduate members beat her and another aspirant repeatedly on the head until a third aspirant could finish reciting the history of the Sorority.
- Members poured juice on the floor and made her clean it up with her back, then tore her shirt off.
- Members slammed her face into the wall, making her lip bleed profusely.
- Members made her stay awake all night.
- She was forbidden from going to the bathroom, causing her to pee her pants.
When she threatened to quit, the active members told her that they “loved” the aspirants and their actions were intended to strengthen the bonds of their line. They also told her that she would be ostracized on campus if she left. Although she felt pressured to remain, she eventually left the Sorority.
As a result of the intake activities, she left school and was forced to seek counseling as a consequence of her treatment. She sued the Sorority for punitive damages and lost future wages. Parties to the lawsuit included the Sorority, the campus chapter and individual members.
A young woman was a student at a HBCU, and was interested in the Sorority community there. Her mother was a Sorority member, and both the young woman and her mother hoped that her legacy status would lead to membership in the Sorority. When she was invited to join, the young woman was thrilled. The intake process was exactly as the Sorority had described, and the young woman became a member.
One evening soon after, the young woman received a text message to meet at 4:00 the next morning at the track of a nearby high school, dressed totally in black and to be prepared to sweat. She joined the other new members as requested.
Older members told the new members that they would be exercising together at the instruction of the older Sorors, and that if anyone messed up or couldn’t keep up, the length of time of the session would be extended. No water would be available either.
- Running up and down stadium steps
- Jumping Jacks
- Wall sits
- Running the track in line, with the final runner required to sprint to the beginning of the line at the direction of the active members.
Older Sorors did not participate in the exercises, but observed from the sidelines, yelling criticisms and abuse at the aspirants. It was during this run that the young woman collapsed from exhaustion. The older Sorors berated her, telling her to get up, she was letting her line down. She tried to rise, but instead passed out.
The new members were told to keep running while they tried to decide what to do. They poured water on the young woman’s face, and tried to get her to drink, to no avail. Finally, they decided to cut the activity short and head back to campus. They brought the young woman back to her residence hall room and left her. When the young woman’s roommate returned, she found her roommate unresponsive and called 911. The young woman was taken to the hospital, where she later died. An autopsy showed that she died because of a rare medical syndrome that can be triggered by strenuous exertion. Her death was attributed to “acute exertional rhabdomyolysis,” a syndrome linked to sudden deaths of military recruits and athletes.
Changing the Culture of Hazing
HERE IS WHAT WE KNOW:
- 1.5 million high school students are hazed each year
- 92% will not report being hazed
- 10% of college students will admit to being hazed
- 36% of college students will not report hazing
- 46% of college students are aware of hazing but will remain silent
It is clear that by the time a boy or girl leaves high school, an encounter with bullying and/or hazing has already taken place either as the initiator or the recipient. With the high incidents of non-reporting a bullying and/or hazing situation, how can the culture of hazing in our society be slowed, curtailed, and eradicated?
There are no illusions or myths that any program, such as “Finer Women Don’t Haze” Campaign (FWDH), strategy, slogan, current laws, or jargon is going to dramatically or significantly change the culture of hazing overnight or instantly. However, we must begin somewhere and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated must offer its voice in this discourse by………
- recognizing that hazing is real and co-exists with our policies and procedures against hazing
- bringing awareness and attention to an issue that is kept underground, in secret, hidden, and unspoken
- promoting open dialogue and discussion in the Greek-letter community, campuses, local schools, churches, community-wide organizations, etc. on the issue of hazing
- networking with other Greek-letter fraternities/sororities, national, state, and local community organizations by providing programs in elementary, middle, and high schools that addresses
- contacting lawmakers at the local, state, and federal levels to strengthen current laws and pass
types of hazing have included the following:
This type of hazing behavior is extremely dangerous and can cause serious physical/psychological harm and in some cases death. This type of hazing can trigger a predisposed medical or psychological condition. Since the 1800s, 163 deaths have been attributed to this form of hazing. The behaviors include branding, paddling, punching, placed in dangerous situations or facilities.
This is a relative new form of hazing that exposes an individual to communications made through e-mails, cell phones, unauthorized posted pictures on websites and/or other social media, internet chat rooms, other telecommunications by seeking to intimidate, control, manipulate, stalk, torment, harass, ridicule, put down, falsely discredit, and/or humiliate the recipient of cyber-bullying. This type of hazing behavior is deliberate, repeated, and hostile. Cyber-Bullying target can also result in psychological/emotional scars that are long-lasting. Please check your state for the laws concerning Cyber-Bullying. In some states, it is a Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanor depending on the age of the individual being cyber-bullied.
This type of hazing is passed down through stories about how it was during “their day” and how it made the individual a “real” member of the group or team. Generational hazing consistently talks about being made “the right way.” Often graduates or old members of a group or organization will come back to relive how it was during “their day” and distort this type of behavior as fun and harmless. It is not! This type of hazing is often underground, hidden, and kept silent.
Alcohol and drugs affects all of the types of hazing discussed here and often contributes to physical and psychological/emotional harm. Alcohol and drugs can intensify an already troubling situation. Alcohol and drug usage is also denounced in many college/universities Code of Conduct, as well as applicable law enforcement statutes.
While the types of hazing described in this link are not inclusive, it should be noted that these behaviors are illegal in many states and can cause suspension/expulsion from the college/university, the sorority/fraternity, organization, arrests, a career, etc.
THE QUESTION TO ASK… IS IT WORTH IT???
FWDH T-SHIRTS: COST PER SHIRT $19.20
The National Trustees of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated will facilitate all T-Shirt sales.
Proceeds will go towards the National Registry for National Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
FWDH T-Shirts will also be sold by National Trustees during Regional and State Conferences.
Large Kit – $39.95
- (10) Finer Women Don’t Haze bracelets
- (10) Finer Women Don’t Haze Royal blue ink pen
- (2) Official Finer Women Don’t Haze posters
- (5) Finer Women Don’t Haze stadium cups
- (2) Finer Women Don’t Haze mouse pads
- (2) Finer Women Don’t Haze lapel pins
Small Kit – $29.95
- (5) Finer Women Don’t Haze bracelets
- (5) Finer Women Don’t Haze Royal blue ink pen
- (1) Official Finer Women Don’t Haze posters
- (2) Finer Women Don’t Haze stadium cups
- (1) Finer Women Don’t Haze mouse pads
- (1) Finer Women Don’t Haze lapel pins