College joins hazing prevention initiative

by Eileen Brady | 2/23/18 2:15am

Dartmouth recently joined the Hazing Prevention Consortium, a research-to-practice initiative led by the University of Maine to build an evidence base for hazing prevention on college campuses. The College’s involvement began with an invitation to join the group in summer 2017 and will continue through 2020, according to Office of Greek Life director Brian Joyce. Joyce and Student Wellness Center director Caitlin Barthelmes serve as liaisons between the College and the HPC.

According to the HPC website, participation in the consortium is based on “having demonstrated a commitment to eliminate hazing and readiness to launch a comprehensive approach to prevention.” The consortium is organized by StopHazing, a hazing prevention research organization.

“[The HPC] is a group of learners that are developing evidence-based strategies to address risky behaviors,” Joyce said. “I think it’s an opportunity to share and build that base of data so that we can address [hazing] more fully and be better prepared in the future.”

The College joins the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Oregon and Tufts University as part of the HPC’s second cohort, which launched in September 2017. The first cohort completed its three-year initiative in 2016, Joyce said.

Barthelmes views the research conducted by the HPC’s first cohort as a valuable resource.

“Cohort one has already started building the evidence base that we can build upon,” she said. “We can learn what’s been working on those campuses and how we can tailor it to our campus.”

In addition to representing Dartmouth in the consortium, Barthelmes and Joyce will serve as chairs of an on-campus coalition of faculty, staff and students to address hazing at Dartmouth. They will begin the process of building the coalition this spring. Once assembled, the coalition will be tasked with translating the evidence gathered by the cohort into initiatives and strategies that can be adopted by the College, Joyce said.

In the next few days, a randomly selected group of students will receive a survey about hazing, Barthelmes said. After the data is collected from students, experts on hazing will come to campus to conduct a qualitative follow-up assessment. This will include interviews and focus groups and will hopefully take place before the end of the academic year, Barthelmes said.

These activities fall under the “Assessment and Capacity” task that the HPC assigns to first-year participants in the cohort. In subsequent years, institutions will form their coalitions, evaluate the collected data and develop prevention strategies, according to the HPC website.

Caroline Filan ’18 noted the College’s participation in the consortium is an opportunity to learn and improve. Filan has been an advocate of hazing prevention since the hazing-related death of her close friend Max Gruver, a Louisiana State University first-year student, in September 2017.

“There’s no reason for this to be happening, and if by talking to other schools we can learn what works and what doesn’t, I think that’s a great idea,” Filan said.

In her efforts, Filan has encouraged Greek houses and other campus organizations to have serious talks about hazing. She has also handed out Max Gruver Foundation bracelets reading “#flyhighmax” and “#stopthehazing.” The goal of the bracelets, she said, is to remind students to look out for one another and to give them the courage to intervene when necessary.

Student efforts like Filan’s play a part in advocating against hazing, a process that Joyce said takes work from every level of the institution.

Barthelmes added that she hopes to build on these efforts using information gained from participation in the HPC.

“[Now] is the perfect time to build on the student involvement in these issues and to further those strides while still recognizing there’s work to be done,” Barthelmes said. “We’re happy to have tools, through this consortium, to move the work even further.”