by Aditya Pendyala
The week of September 19th was dedicated to National Hazing Prevention. During the week, there were several events held with the intent to increase awareness over the entire campus. One of these events was a keynote presentation with Travis Apgar, the Associate Dean of students at Cornell University, who has been an advocate and crusader for hazing prevention for an enduring and highly successful period of time. The keynote began with Thea Zunick, the Associate Director of Undergraduate Student Life, stating the event’s importance, its morbidity, and the towering role that the chief speaker has in its prevention. Hazing still finds a niche in today’s university traditions and rituals; the emotional, physical and social imbalance that different degrees of hazing cause are detrimental to all of its victims. According to Travis Apgar, “Hazing is any activity expected of someone that is joining or participating in a group that has the potential to humiliate, degrade, abuse, or endanger them, physically or mentally, regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.”
As the first college student of his family, Travis Apgar had welcomed college with the assumption that hazing was an inevitable and even an acceptable rite of passage of student life. Furthermore, as a college athlete and fraternity member, Travis Apgar has seen the dark side of hazing – a repugnant event that has even caused death. Due to the lack of clarity among the masses, the students, and even the media about hazing, Travis Apgar has spread knowledge about hazing and the stigma (or the lack thereof) attached to it, in an incredibly efficient and widespread fashion. Travis appeared on PBS’ Newshour to discuss hazing and also wrote a handbook to help prevent hazing. His appearance in Stevens – a college he is endeared by due to its closely knit and intelligent student body, and of course, its vehement and consistent prohibition of hazing – is solely due to his desire to spread information and get the best for all of its students.
Travis introduced an alarming statistic – 47% of students experience hazing before they begin their first year at college – which throws light upon the unawareness among students of how unethical hazing is. The law of New Jersey, as well as Stevens’ policy, clearly denounces hazing as an illegal, hurtful, and criminal act that is punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. NHPW encourages students to engage in healthy, harmonious, and amenable behavior to encourage oneness, unity, and of course, happiness in both the Stevens community and in their lives.