New Member Education and the Negative Influence of Hazing

National Hazing Prevention Week is September 24-28, 2018

by Dan Bureau, PhD
University of New Hampshire, ‘95
Board of Trustees
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Memphis

Many of us have had the privilege to recruit and select new members this fall. Bringing new members into our organization is arguably our greatest responsibility as a member and doing so in a way that helps them feel integrated and valued is vital.

It does not matter if you have five or fifty new members, what matters is that you have an educational program prepared for them that is developmentally appropriate, professionally and personally focused, and free of actions that could place your new member in harm’s way.

It is my hope, and that of the fraternity as a whole, that you will conduct new member education activities in a way that does not harm a person. It is that simple.

While accidents may happen under acceptable conditions (i.e. a flag football game, camping trip) what we need to be sure of is that we are not providing the environment and direction that could harm someone.

One way that we mitigate harm is by not allowing hazing activities into our chapters.

September 24th - 28th is National Hazing Prevention Week. Since 2004, this week has been recognized across the interfraternal and higher education community as a way to remind members that hazing has no place in Fraternity.

Phi Kappa Theta has a membership education program that can be easily applied in your chapter and it does not include activities that would be considered hazing.

Understanding our history, functions, values and goals as an organization does not require us to have new members prove themselves through activities that are really pointless or at the least, only solve the immediate problem of group unity.

It is for that reason that many choose to haze: group unity. The impression is that the group will unite in a way that is meaningful and get them closer to their goal of initiation.

While hazing activities may appear to have a unifying aspect to them, what it does is create a sense of false immediacy by new members: if we come together faster as a result of suffering through this then we will initiate more quickly.

We all know that rarely does a new member class initiate more quickly because they allow themselves to be hazed. The timeline for initiation is typically set ahead of the new member process launch, and often involves input from the national organization and the campus professionals who oversee fraternity/sorority life.

Therefore, not only are the hazing activities potentially dangerous, but they are also untruthful. I think we have a responsibility to be truthful with our new members, earn their trust, as well as keep them safe.

Hazing undermines our values as an organization. It makes us less relevant to potential members who do not want to put up with crap in order to become a member of an organization.

Yes, there are people “looking to be hazed” but in my experience of working with fraternities (over 22 years) those members often quit or disengage and often they are what can lead to the end of the chapter on a campus.

Some of them change their attitudes as a result of a member experience that is positive, but more often than not a person who wants to be hazed has a number of other issues that they must work through and they are often someone you would not want as a member no matter how fun or cool: they will very likely not care enough to help the organization succeed.

Many students I talk to focus on the definition of hazing. That can be a starting point, but rather than worry about what is and what is not hazing, create experiences that help new members develop leadership skills, get connected in campus, have fun with fellow brothers and fellow students, enhance their affinity for serving the community, network with alumni and develop a sense of self value that will help them as a student and a member.

State laws can tell you about what is and is not hazing, but when you think about the values of Phi Kappa Theta and the benefits of fraternity on the whole, thinking through the “why” of any activity is vital to ensure that there is a meaningful and purposeful new member (and member) education process that helps brothers become their best self and best member.

For more resources on providing new member and member education experiences that are not hazing, please contact our Executive Offices and review resources found at

About Dan:


Dan Bureau joined Phi Kappa Theta at the University of New Hampshire, and graduated in 1995. He later earned a PhD. in Higher Education and Student Affairs at Indiana University. Dan works for the University of Memphis as the assistant vice president for student affairs. He also volunteers for the Council for the Advancement of Standards through the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors. Dan enjoys spending time with his family, playing tennis and staying fit.

Parents Who Have Lost Sons to Hazing Join Fraternities and Sororities to Form Anti-Hazing Coalition

NEW YORK -- In an unprecedented partnership, four families who have lost their sons to hazing are coming together with fraternities and sororities to fight it.
Jim and Evelyn Piazza, parents of Tim Piazza; Stephen and Rae Ann Gruver, parents of Max Gruver; Rich and Maille Braham, parents of Marquise Braham; and Lianne and Brian Kowiak, parents of Harrison Kowiak, have joined the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) and National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) to form a partnership that will focus on pursuing and strengthening state hazing laws and significantly expanding education and training for high school and college-aged students.

Other organizations within the fraternal community -- HazingPrevention.Org, the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors (AFA) and Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values (AFLV) -- have committed their support to these efforts.

"After meeting with Jud and some of his colleagues, the other parents and I saw a sincerity to make change and a real interest to work with us. We collectively agreed forming this alliance made sense," said Jim Piazza. "While we may seem like strange bedfellows, we all want the same thing -- to end hazing, so other parents don't have to experience what we have."

When students arrive at college, nearly half have already experienced hazing. This Coalition seeks to address the problem earlier through education, while also strengthening accountability and transparency through new model state legislation.

"The best way to inspire change in college students is to touch their hearts," said Judson Horras, President & CEO of the North American Interfraternity Conference. "In working with these families, we have seen how deeply their personal stories resonate, and I've witnessed first-hand the powerful impact these parents have in helping young men."

"We can do more together than we can alone to address this societal problem," said Carole Jones, Chairman of the National Panhellenic Conference. "The fight against hazing requires that an entire community step up, including sorority women, who can and must do our part to create safer campus cultures where students advocate for one another."

The coalition will:

  • Pursue state-based anti-hazing legislation that delivers greater transparency through stronger hazing reporting requirements, strengthens criminal penalties and encourages prosecution, calls for university accountability for bad actors, provides amnesty to encourage people to call for help, and calls for student education.

  • Expand awareness and intervention education, including providing a platform for the parents to speak to tens of thousands of college students.

  • Engage fraternity and sorority members in educating high school students to confront hazing and bullying.

Just this summer, these parents have spoken to more than 3,000 fraternity members at summer leadership conferences, including at Sigma Alpha Epsilon's where hundreds of students and alumni moved by the program lined up to speak directly with the parents. Parents are also being invited to speak with sorority women at both the local and national levels.

The group has already begun discussion with lawmakers, and hopes to work in several states this fall to introduce model legislation. At the federal level, the organizations will continue to advocate for the REACH Act, which -- if passed -- will require colleges and universities to publicly report hazing incidents under the Clery Act and provide expanded hazing prevention education and resources to students.

"We are in full support of this partnership and look forward to working together in the months ahead to change the hazing culture," said Steve and Rae Ann Gruver.

Further, this initial group of partners hopes to engage other organizations in the future.

"Our ultimate goal is to ensure no other child is killed or injured due to dangerous and illegal hazing," said Richard Braham. "It will take more than tougher laws, greater parental awareness and university oversight or a timely display of moral courage and decency to eradicate hazing. It will take all of these things, plus young people understanding that you don't become a 'better man or woman' by watching and remaining silent as your brother or sister is harmed or killed."


About the North American Interfraternity Conference

NIC is a trade association that represents 66 national and international men's fraternities, with more than 6,100 chapters located on more than 800 campuses in the United States and Canada, with approximately 385,000 undergraduate members and nearly 4.2 million alumni. The NIC has introduced enhanced health and safety standards and programs, including last week's ban of hard alcohol in fraternity houses and events.

About the National Panhellenic Conference
NPC is the umbrella organization specifically charged with advocating on behalf of the sorority experience. It is comprised of 26 national and international sororities that are autonomous social organizations. Collectively, NPC sororities are located on more than 670 campuses with approximately 418,000 undergraduate members and nearly 5 million alumnae.

About HazingPrevention.Org

HazingPrevention.Org™ is dedicated to empowering people to prevent hazing, by providing education and resources, advocating on hazing prevention, and building partnerships with others. Major initiatives of the organization include National Hazing Prevention Week™, Prevent.Zone™ educational online courses, seminars, books, and educational resources that touch the lives of thousands of individuals, organizations, campuses and communities.

About the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors

Through programs, publications, networking opportunities and other resources, AFA represents the community of fraternity and sorority advisors and is the leading voice in aligning the fraternity/sorority and higher education experiences.

About the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values

The Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values (AFLV) accelerates progress in fraternity and sorority communities, reaching more than 300 campuses and 4,000 student leaders and professionals through change-enabling experiences.

NIC Fraternities Ban Hard Alcohol in Decisive Action


INDIANAPOLIS—In an important, decisive action to enhance health and safety in fraternity communities, the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) recently adopted a Standard prohibiting hard alcohol from fraternity chapter facilities and events.

At its Aug. 27 Annual Meeting in a near unanimous vote of its 66 inter/national fraternities, the Conference determined that each organization will implement the new Standard by Sept. 1, 2019, across their more than 6,100 chapters on 800 campuses.

"At their core, fraternities are about brotherhood, personal development and providing a community of support. Alcohol abuse and its serious consequences endanger this very purpose," said Judson Horras, NIC President & CEO. "This action shows fraternities' clear commitment and leadership to further their focus on the safety of members and all in our communities.

"This is the latest in a series of NIC Health & Safety Initiatives launched in the last year, including Conference-wide adoption of medical Good Samaritan policies; piloting further measures to reduce alcohol; developing SocialSafe, an online event management platform and app; testing measures to reduce hazing in the new member experience; and advocating for stronger anti-hazing laws.

"Our IFC and member fraternities eliminated hard alcohol from facilities and events on our campus several years ago and have seen a positive shift in our culture when it comes to the health and safety of our members and guests," said Seth Gutwein, Purdue University IFC President. "With all NIC fraternities implementing this critical change, it will provide strong support for fraternities to move as one to make campus communities safer."

Under the resolution passed by the Conference, each NIC member fraternity will "adopt and implement a policy by September 1, 2019, that prohibits the presence of alcohol products above 15% ABV in any chapter facility or at any chapter event, except when served by a licensed third-party vendor. Chapter facilities and events outside the United States may have one additional year to achieve compliance. Any member fraternity that does not have a business meeting between Sept. 1, 2018, and Sept. 1, 2019, will be granted a one-year extension in adoption." As with all NIC Standards, this is a minimum expectation; when member fraternities and campuses have more restrictive policies, students and chapters will still be expected to follow those.

Click here to view this release online and here for more information, including Frequently Asked Questions. Download a PDF of the release here.


The North American Interfraternity Conference is a trade association that represents 66 inter/national men's fraternities, with more than 6,100 chapters located on more than 800 campuses in the United States and Canada, with approximately 385,000 undergraduate members and nearly 4.2 million alumni.