Vermilion Staff Report

There have been four cases of hazing reported at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Hazing allegations against both Sigma Nu and Alpha Kappa Alpha have undergone investigations and the incidents were unfounded. 

According to Gregory Zerangue, the senior associate dean of students, the police and the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities investigated the hazing accusation and found no evidence to support the allegations.

 “There was an accusation of hazing, police investigated it as well as Student Rights and Responsibilities, and unfounded means there was no hazing substantiated,” Zerangue said. 

Alpha Phi Alpha and Pi Kappa Alpha are currently being investigated for hazing. 

 UL Lafayette has a continuously updated policy and penalties for hazing related incidents. 

Dean of Students Margarita Perez says that the UL Lafayette hazing policy has been reaffirmed as of Aug. 1, 2019. The new policy was revised in response to the Max Gruver Act that was signed by Governor John Bel Edwards in 2018.

“Students need to know that their leaders take hazing seriously,” Gov. Edwards said. “This legislation sends the clear message that the state of Louisiana does not tolerate hazing of any kind. It is one important step toward ending the culture of hazing and secrecy in university organizations and creating a culture of openness, honesty and accountability.”

The new policy has generated new procedures and actions to prevent hazing. Students and organizations are educated with training about hazing. The university works with the organizations by requiring them to complete an online education program. 

Various UL Lafayette fraternities and sororities have also taken it upon themselves to prevent hazing within their organizations.

Hailey Densmore, a senior majoring in chemistry and the vice president of Sigma Alpha Iota, shared how they take hazing seriously and strive to treat their initiates fairly, as well as extensively teaching against hazing within the sorority.

“It’s any situation that creates mental or physical discomfort or harassment,” Densmore said. “It could be seen as something as little as a scavenger hunt or wearing something embarrassing for reasons, making them work late, harming their mental health, making them do embarrassing stunts in public, anything like that we consider hazing. We condemn any hazing activities, we condemn hazing of prospective initiates, we do not see it as okay at all. And we affirm that for our initiates, we want to treat them with the best dignity that we have because hazing is just wrong in my opinion. And we should be looking for a future where we can teach our initiates without hazing and putting people in danger.”

Seth Duet, a freshman majoring in biology and a member of Lambda Chi Alpha, spoke on how his fraternity treats hazing as a serious matter.

“Hazing is one of those things that we take seriously because, you know, we do a lot to make sure that we don’t cross any of those boundaries,” Duet said.

Duet further added that they treat their new members as equals to active members, referring to them as “associates” rather than pledges, as a way to prevent hazing or harassment

 “Basically the way that works is our associates have all the same rights that all of our actives do,” Duet said. “We do that kind of as a precaution, just to make sure they realize that they are on, you know at the end of the day we’re all human, they’re at the same level that we’re on. We don’t really like to separate each other like that. So that’s just one of the things we do but we definitely go ahead and make clear that you shouldn’t be treating new members or anyone really in any sort of derogatory way, anything that would be humiliating, that’s just not who we are.”

Hazing allegations are reported to the University of Louisiana System, university police and Student Rights and Responsibilities. Hazing falls under the two categories that are considered under the Student Code of Conduct and criminal charges. 

The UL Lafayette defines hazing in its hazing policy as an intentional, knowing or reckless act directed against an individual which “endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any Organization whose members are or include students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.”

“It is possible that you could be found not responsible for criminal hazing but found responsible for hazing as it relates to our code of conduct,” Perez said. 

The Louisiana State Legislature states those who haze can be either suspended, dismissed or expelled from the university. 

Given that hazing is against the law there will be legal repercussions as well.

“It shall be unlawful for any person to commit an act of hazing,” Louisiana Legislature states, “any person who commits an act of hazing shall be either fined up to one thousand dollars, imprisoned for up to six months, or both.”

Students are encouraged to report any type of hazing they may see or suspect happening.

 “See Something Say Something. We all have a role in preventing hazing on our campus. Raise the flag, let someone know, report it,” Perez said.