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UJC looks to increase transparency on hazing cases this semester

The hazing subcommittee will hold a public hazing mock trial, among other efforts to inform the student body on its internal processes

<p>While none of the committee’s six pending cases are organizational hazing cases, Lisa Kopelnik, UJC chair and third-year College student, says those reports are typically filed in the coming weeks, after the recruitment period for fraternities and sororities ends.</p>

While none of the committee’s six pending cases are organizational hazing cases, Lisa Kopelnik, UJC chair and third-year College student, says those reports are typically filed in the coming weeks, after the recruitment period for fraternities and sororities ends.

The University Judiciary Committee’s new hazing subcommittee aims to publicize its process for hazing cases by rolling out infographics on hazing, offering Fraternal Organization Agreement presentations and hosting a public hazing mock trial.

After receiving feedback from community members that organizations are confused about the UJC’s hazing case process, the UJC created the hazing subcommittee to increase transparency. Last semester the subcommittee was staffed with UJC members, and this semester the subcommittee will begin its work.

The UJC typically deals with a few hazing cases each year, and have found several student organizations guilty of hazing misconduct in the past 12 months. The UJC sanctioned Delta Delta Delta, Theta Tau, Club Gymnastics and the University Guide Service for hazing last Spring. The University also terminated the FOAs of Kappa Alpha Order and Phi Gamma Delta for hazing in July 2022.

While none of the UJC’s six pending cases are organizational hazing cases, Lisa Kopelnik, UJC chair and third-year College student, said those reports are typically filed in the coming weeks, after the recruitment period for fraternities and sororities ends.

Allison McVey, hazing subcommittee chair and second-year College student said the UJC’s hazing mock trial was designed as a collaboration between the hazing subcommittee and the awareness week subcommittee — the subcommittee that plans the UJC’s annual awareness week to increase student engagement with the organization. The mock trial aims to help students better understand how the UJC handles a hazing case and will take place during the third week of March.

“Anyone who wants to come and view it [can] see our deliberation process and what kind of things we look at when we’re dealing with hazing,” McVey said.

Kopelnik said while UJC would like to see a reduction in hazing cases, the hazing subcommittee is not aiming to curb hazing, instead attempting to inform organizations about the trial process should they be reported.

“We see our role mostly to be transparent in how we respond to hazing cases, ensuring that organizations know what the process looks like [and] what their rights are,” Kopelnik said.

Another project the subcommittee hopes to complete is a partnership with the Stall Seat Journal, a Student Health and Wellness-led publication that designs infographics for bathroom stall doors about informative topics like substance abuse and healthy relationships. The partnership hopes to add hazing information to the SSJ.

McVey said the partnership with the SSJ would provide information on how to identify hazing, what a student’s rights are when they report a hazing incident and the UJC’s role in hazing cases.

McVey said a misconception is that the UJC is an antagonistic force or a hazing patrol, and she hopes the hazing subcommittee will change that perception.

“It's more about community relations and knowledge spreading, and that's our big goal,” McVey said.

Another way the committee will try to change this perception is by offering additional, UJC-led FOA presentations on hazing. FOA presentations are mandatory educational events that fraternities and sororities must attend four times a year. Topics of the FOA presentations include education on hazing, alcohol and drug use and sexual violence prevention. Currently, the FOA presentations are only led by University administrators or outside groups, not students.

Anna Prillaman, vice chair for sanctions and third-year College student, said that student-led presentations will be more applicable for these organizations, in part because the treatment of hazing cases at the University has changed a lot in recent years.

“The feedback has been that [the presentation is] not as helpful because it doesn’t provide information actually related to practical things, like what a hazing case would be like,” Prillaman said.

Kopelnik said that presentations led by the UJC would provide a different perspective than current presentations, which focus more on hazing prevention.

The UJC released its 2023 Fall statistics report Tuesday, which reported seven of eight cases dealing with alleged violations of the University’s first and second Standards of Conduct, which involve physical assault and threats to personal health and safety, respectively. The report also noted violations of Standard 10, which pertain to cases involving violations of local, state or federal law.

Of the six pending cases, all against individual students, four have trials scheduled for February and two have been postponed to March.

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