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Representatives from every SAC group, athletic team, and greek organization gathered at the Palestra to attend a mandatory anti-hazing event.

Credit: Susanna Jaramillo

From being forced to wear Teletubby costumes, to drinking excessively, many students in Greek life, varsity sports and even student clubs have experienced many kinds of hazing.

On March 28, an estimated 2,500 students were required to attend an anti-hazing speaker event in the Palestra. All varsity athletes, a percentage of members from each Greek chapter and three members from every SAC-funded group were required to attend. The speaker, Michelle Guobadia, director of fraternity and sorority life at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, gave a presentation entitled, “Hazing Makes You a Better Teammate/Greek/Leader and Other Stupid Myths.”

Guobadia travels around the country talking about hazing, not just in the context of Greek life, but also in athletics and student organizations. In her speech, she dismissed 10 myths about hazing, including the belief that it builds loyalty and eliminates “bad apples.”

“She has a very straightforward, genuine and relatable way of speaking,” Executive Director of Student Affairs Katie Hanlon Bonner said.

However, some students disliked the speech and disagreed with the speaker. One College sophomore — who wished to remain anonymous because she did not want to get in trouble with her sorority — said she believes hazing does make you a better teammate. In her sorority, she believes the lack of hazing meant that she could not bond with her sisters. She felt almost limited by it, as the rules prohibiting hazing meant that pledging could not include activities such as scavenger hunts.

“I think the University deals with hazing for sororities much more harshly than it deals with hazing for fraternities,” College sophomore and social media associate at The Daily Pennsylvanian Gomian Konneh said. “It’s a very sexist system.”

A College freshman — who also declined to use her name for fear of getting in trouble with her sorority — said she thinks the University is taking the right steps, but these actions still will not have a strong enough effect to stop hazing.

“They do most of what they can do, because people are going to haze no matter what. It’s just unfortunately a reality of being in college,” she said. “I think it’s good to get people talking about it in these types of events, but I’m a realist.”

Bonner says the administration has a realistic approach and does not expect the speaker event to drastically change hazing at Penn.

“We want to get students used to a more regular conversation about hazing and how to build healthy student communities that are respectful,” Bonner said. “We don’t think that after going to this speaker, students are going to turn around and say ‘Oh my god, we’re stopping everything we’ve ever done.’”

This event was the first time the Office of Student Affairs, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Penn Athletics collaborated on a hazing education program. In the future, they plan to work together on smaller-scale events that would engage students more.

“This isn’t a one and done thing,” Bonner said.

Although there have not been any major incidents on campus recently, Bonner said that leaders of the three communities wish to take a preemptive approach to hazing education, rather than creating these programs in response to an incident.

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