By Kayla Nunez
The Razorback Reporter
Florida State University became the third major campus this year to record a student death involving a Greek-letter organization. That prompted the FSU administration on Nov. 6 to suspend indefinitely all 55 of its sororities and fraternities after a Pi Kappa Phi pledge died after a weekend party, according to an FSU announcement.
The incident, on the heels of similar ones at Pennsylvania State University and Louisiana State University, has once again revised the question of hazing – a national topic of discussion – on campuses across the country.
A freshman Phi Delta Theta pledge at LSU died in what was described as a potential hazing incident in September and a Beta Theta Pi pledge at Penn State died in a hazing incident in February.
LSU formally suspended Phi Delta Theta and indefinitely suspended all Greek activities.
Parice Bowser, director of UA Greek Life, said that if a similar circumstance happened, an investigation and disciplinary procedures would follow.
“It’s my prayer that the University of Arkansas does not ever experience such a loss,” Bowser said.
The UofA has zero tolerance for hazing among its 35 Greek-letter organizations.
Mark Rushing, UA assistant vice chancellor for university relations, reiterated the university’s stance on hazing.
“The safety of our students is a top priority and the university strongly opposes any form of hazing,” Rushing said.
UA policy also is supported by Arkansas state law.
“Any requirement imposed upon prospective, new or current members which is not related to the organization’s purpose is prohibited and will become the subject of a University investigation once the practice is brought to the attention of the Office of Greek Life,” according to the UA anti-hazing policy.
In the case of any hazing allegations, the university would take a look at the case and then the police might get involved, depending on the severity of the situation.
There have been some reported allegations of hazing in the past at the UofA, including as recently as January of 2016.
As of March 31, 2016 four reports of hazing were filed and 10 fraternity violations of Greek Life conduct rules since 2013, according to a report from the Office of Student Standards and Conduct.
Some examples of hazing are making new members be silent for a certain amount of time, requiring physical exercises such as sit-ups and push-ups, and making a member wear uncomfortable clothes, among others, according to the UA Greek Life website.
The website lists 19 activities that “have at one time or another been identified as hazing by courts and/or institutions of higher education.”
Greek Life has many programs throughout the year that educate members on hazing prevention, said Danica Ridgeway, Panhellenic President.
UA Greek Life participated in National Hazing Prevention Week in September and Ridgeway said the UofA has been participating in the event for years.
Fraternities and sororities also participated in an educational program in September called These Hands Don’t Haze. The program focused on hazing awareness and prevention and how students should report hazing concerns.
“Hazing is prohibited under Greek Life policies and by the Code of Student Life,” Rushing said.