Dartmouth Joins Hazing-Prevention Consortium

Group members will study campus climate and share lessons about preventing and responding to hazing.

Dartmouth has joined the Hazing Prevention Consortium, a multiyear research-to-practice initiative led by the University of Maine and designed to build an evidence base for preventing hazing on college campuses.

“Despite state and national efforts in recent years to curb hazing, there is little strong data around best practices to prevent it,” says Dean of the College Rebecca Biron. “Participating in this consortium will help us better understand what works in Dartmouth’s culture and let us engage more deeply in the national discussion.”

Caitlin Barthelmes, director of the Student Wellness Center, and Brian Joyce, director of the Office of Greek Life, are serving as Dartmouth’s co-liaisons to the consortium, which Dartmouth joined last fall.

“Hazing is detrimental to the health and well-being of individual students and our campus community,” Barthelmes says. “I’m looking forward to working with the consortium and other campus partners, including students, to address this high-risk behavior in a very intentional way.”

Over a three-year period, Dartmouth and other member campuses will collaborate closely with research and prevention experts to assess campus climate for hazing and build an institutional commitment to prevent it. Members will develop, implement, and evaluate hazing-prevention strategies, and share lessons learned with other schools in the cohort. In addition, they will test and collect data on prevention strategies in order to contribute to broader knowledge about ways colleges and universities can most effectively prevent hazing, and respond to it when it happens.

Beginning Feb. 12, a randomly selected sample of undergraduates will receive an email inviting them to participate in a confidential survey about their experiences of and attitudes toward various types of hazing. The survey will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete, and participants will be entered into a raffle to receive a $500 Amazon gift card.

Once the survey data has been collected, researchers from the University of Maine will visit campus to conduct focus groups and collect qualitative data about Dartmouth’s culture. All students are invited to volunteer for these focus groups, regardless of whether they completed a survey. Students interested in participating should contact [email protected].

Dartmouth is part of the second cohort of higher education institutions to participate in the Hazing Prevention Consortium, along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, the University of Oregon, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The first cohort, which completed its work in 2016, included Cornell University, Lehigh University, Texas A&M University, the University of Arizona, the University of Central Florida, the University of Kentucky, the University of Maine, and the University of Virginia. The research is being led by University of Maine professor Elizabeth Allan.

“We’re excited that Dartmouth will be working with us to collect new data and gather information about hazing-prevention strategies that are most effective in postsecondary settings,” Allan says.

Joyce, who oversees training for members of Greek organizations on everything from managing a budget to facilitating difficult conversations among peers, hopes Dartmouth’s participation in the consortium will give him more tools to work effectively with students to change some of the social norms around hazing.

“To me, the most important piece of this study is understanding more about hazing attitudes and behaviors, developing an evidence-based strategic framework for response, and then assessing that response to inform future practice,” Joyce says.

As a possible model, Joyce points to efforts at Cornell to improve the structure through which students can report hazing incidents, establish bystander training (similar to the peer-based Dartmouth Bystander Initiative), and share data. “I’m already seeing things that other groups are doing that could be ways that we respond as well,” he says.

Dartmouth’s hazing policy is available on the student affairs website.

Hannah Silverstein can be reached at [email protected].