The recent tragic death of an Ohio college student involving alcohol misuse and alleged hazing activities have college communities and parents alike grappling with grief at the loss of a life that could have been prevented. It is at times like this a sometimes hidden issue is brought to light. Communities begin relooking at ways to evaluate the elements of the tragedy and what can be done to stop it from happening again. This time, the death was caused by alcohol misuse and hazing.
In 2008, a ground-breaking national study on hazing, “Hazing in View: College Students at Risk,” was conducted through the University of Maine. With the lack of more accessible and recent data on hazing, this national study is still used as a data-driven guide for assisting college communities in addressing hazing tactics. The use of extreme hazing tactics in college communities already put young adults at risk—the use of alcohol increases that risk exponentially. For this study, hazing was defined as “any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.”
An additional response to this recent tragedy is the introduction of Ohio Senate Bill 126 and Ohio House Bill 205 that look to increase penalties for aggravated hazing and the development of a statewide education plan for preventing hazing at institutions of higher education.
If you live and/or work within a college community, as a prevention professional, we urge you to reach out to your local campus and create a partnership in providing prevention education, awareness campaigns or other applicable evidence-based prevention strategies. Communities have greater impact for change when we work together.
Senate Bill 126
House Bill 205