Sigma Phi Epsilon invited brother Judge Mitch Crane, to speak to the various fraternities and sororities at St. John’s on the negative effects of hazing in the University Commons on Oct. 24.
“This is a serious issue across the country with Greek organizations. While students may not actually be getting hazed up front, behind closed doors there may be another story,” Natalie Maio, assistant director for Fraternities and Sororities, said. “Students should understand what they can do to alleviate this issue.”
For many hazing can be considered a right of passage, however Crane does not believe that it leads to brother or sisterhood in a Greek organization.
“We don’t haze our loved ones, friends, future employees, or to get into schools. Hazing does not prove that once in, people will actually participate in an organization,” Crane said.
Crane gave various examples of hazing practices at different college campuses.
He briefly discussed stories of new sorority members, former pledges, that were burnt with cigarettes after having fat deposits on their bodies circled. Crane also spoke of various drinking binges turned deadly at campuses like Washington State University and Pennsylvania State University.
St. John’s has always had a strict policy against hazing. Its policy, written in the Student Code of Conduct and in the Greek Life handbook, states that “the University hereby affirms its policy that it will not condone hazing of any kind. To this end, any student, faculty member, staff member, visitor, licensee, or invitee who engages in hazing may be ejected from campus, and where appropriate, shall be subject to suspension, expulsion, or other disciplinary action.”
At St. John’s there have been sporadic incidents that have dealt with with alcohol, physical and verbal abuse since the mid to late 1990s, Maio said. Yet, there have been no incidents in the two years since she has been employed at St. John’s.
To keep hazing from becoming an issue, the University made the event mandatory for all Greek presidents, new members and new member educators.
“We wanted to teach the new members what hazing is and give examples of where it has occurred,” Maio said. “That way if they [the new members] feel they are being subject to it they can let someone know.”
“This is my second time seeing Judge Crane speak. He is very informative and brings you down to the real life consequences of hazing,” said Joseph Gebbie, a senior government and politics major and member of Sigma Alpha Mu.
Crane also addressed the members on the positive aspects of Greek Life and the reasons he does presentations all across the country.
“I speak because Greek values and the experience have had a huge impact on my life and because most people never read or hear about the positives of Greek life but the negatives.”
According to Crane, fraternities at Pennsylvania State University were able to raise over $3 million for cancer research. However the fraternities’ reputation on that campus was overshadowed, in the media, by a drinking death that had also occurred.
Crane has spoken on more than 300 campuses across the nation about Greek issues such as hazing, alcohol abuse and risk management.
Crane is on the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation Board of Governors and has served as a chapter counselor and president for Sigma Phi Epsilon.
Crane, a graduate of Widener University School of Law, formerly served as a district judge in Chester County, Pa.