Editorial | Step away from the haze

Undergraduate Assembly members should step down from the alcohol policy review commitee

· January 31, 2012, 2:07 am   ·  Updated February 1, 2012, 10:37 pm

In October, the Undergraduate Assembly held an initiation event for its new members. The event, where alcohol was served to minors, included a scavenger hunt with blindfolds and verbal confrontation.

Reports that surfaced this week confirm that the UA was found to be violating the University’s Antihazing and Alcohol and Drug policy by the Office of Student Conduct.

The punishment? All elected members who are not freshmen will be asked to attend a 90-minute educational session on alcohol and hazing — a similar process that Greek organizations are required to undergo whether or not they have violated any university policies — and partner with campus organizations to teach fellow students about the two big issues.

Needless to say, they got off lightly. Perhaps a reason for this is because their violations were not deemed to be that severe. But the verdict was entirely within the hands of the Office of Student Conduct’s investigation committee.

Under Penn’s antihazing policy, groups that haze can lose their University recognition, funding from the Student Activities Council and be banned from using campus facilities.

The caveat here is that the UA not only allocates funds toward SAC, but that it receives a total of $2 million each year directly from Penn’s Board of Trustees.

Whether or not the UA’s sentence from OSC makes it clear that hazing has no place on this campus, a more immediate concern lies ahead. The UA has been working alongside other student groups since August to alter the University’s alcohol policy — the same one that it violated and is now paying dues for.

Their proposed changes would make it easier for students to register on-campus parties by reducing the cost and creating incentives for groups that register on multiple occasions. However, since the hazing allegations surfaced in November, the proposal has been continuously pushed back.

If the UA stays on the alcohol policy review committee, the proposal is doomed for failure. The confirmed hazing incidents have tarnished the UA’s credibility among students, faculty and administrators. It has also stunted its ability to effectively advocate for the student body — especially in matters that relate to alcohol.

As a result, UA members should remove themselves from the alcohol policy review committee and let student groups that were already part of the coalition, such as the Social Planning and Events Committee, and the Interfraternity Council, take the reigns on this project.

By continuing to sit on the alcohol policy review committee, UA members will be doing a huge disservice to students. Deliberately violating the policy that they are trying to change not only sets a bad example, it also reflects a blatant disregard for the rules that govern this University.

It appears as though the tradition of hazing new members in the UA has come and gone over the past several years. As elected members of student government, the UA must be held to the same — if not higher — standards of student groups across campus. This cycle must end or the UA risks losing its authority as the voice of students.

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