Administrators have addressed reports of hazing among Duke’s sororities.
The administration recently concluded investigations of five sorority chapters for practices of alleged hazing. Reported actions include “kidnapping” members in the early morning hours to an undisclosed location and requiring members to wear specific clothing, said Stephen Bryan, associate dean of students and director of the Office of Student Conduct. Not all of the investigated groups were found responsible.
No sororities currently remain under investigation, Panhellenic Association President Kelsey Woodford, a junior, wrote in an email Wednesday. Woodford declined to comment further.
“The behavior presented caused a situation in which women may have been distressed by being woken up in the middle of the night and taken from their residences,” Bryan wrote in an email Wednesday.
None of the reports of alleged hazing by sororities involved alcohol use or distribution, personal servitude, physical training or acts of humiliation, Bryan said. His office, however, has received reports of these behaviors by fraternities, selective living groups and nonresidential groups.
Bryan noted that some of the practices, such as requiring members to wear certain clothing, were on the “very minor end of the spectrum” of hazing. The groups found responsible for hazing were required to complete educational programs that revisit the purpose of the practices and redesign it to meet expectations for a University organization. Bryan could not comment on specific chapters.
Hazing is defined as any action taken that is potentially harmful to an individual’s physical, emotional or psychological well-being, regardless of whether the individual is willing to participate, according to the University’s hazing policy.
“What might be perceived by some as historic ritual might be inappropriate in this day and age,” Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said. “The acts of hazing for which people are held accountable tend not to be gray areas but involve obscenity and obvious harassment.”
Clarybel Peguero, assistant dean of fraternity and sorority life, said she could not talk about specific cases and the sorority chapters that were in question.
“We have received calls to our hazing hotline, and those found in violation of the hazing policy are held accountable,” Peguero wrote in an email Tuesday.
The presidents of individual Panhel chapters declined to comment.
Moneta noted the practices under question are worthy of examination and may require some adjustments. The evaluations of each practice must be conducted individually, and context is crucial.
Although students have expressed concern that a closer look at alleged hazing practices is eliminating harmless traditions that help students feel included, Moneta said this perspective trivializes the seriousness of hazing. As incidences of and deaths from hazing have increased significantly on a national scale, administrative awareness of the issue on campus has also increased.
“Hazing is a serious issue and is in the spotlight even more so due to extreme cases at other universities that demonstrate just how dangerous hazing can be,” Peguero added.