Students at the University of South Florida held a moment of silence and were asked to sign a pledge to take measures to prevent hazing, just days after another state university temporarily banned Greek life due to the death of a fraternity pledge.
Wednesday's event was part of USF’s participation in National Hazing Prevention Week, a week-long effort to combat hazing in organizations across campuses.
The commemoration was scheduled to take place in September, but was postponed due to Hurricane Irma.
By coincidence, it ended up being rescheduled to just days after a pledge at Florida State University died, leading to the university shutting down its Greek program indefinitely.
“It is unfortunate that there’s this timeliness piece with such a tragedy that happened at an institution right in our own very state,” said Monica Miranda, the director of the Center for Student Involvement.
Florida State’s decision to ban Greek life was met with conflicting responses. Some USF students agreed that it was a necessary measure.
“Yeah it was harsh, but that’s one way they can figure out what’s going on and how they can handle it in the future later on,” said Sigma Kappa member Alejandra Loboguerrero.
Others felt the ban was unfair.
“They shouldn’t have banned it for everybody,” said Lexi Bodden, another member of Sigma Kappa. “It sucks that it got ruined for the organizations that weren’t a part of it because of a (separate) incident.”
Miranda doesn’t see how effective the ban will be in preventing hazing, but she says it will definitely have an impact.
“Hopefully that ban will help to spark that conversation and create some change at FSU,” said Miranda.
According to Miranda, hazing isn’t necessarily a large problem at USF, with only minor issues having been raised in the past few years. This could possibly be credited to the university’s relatively short history.
“Because of the youth of our institution, (hazing) hasn’t really had a chance to really become a part of the culture here,” said Miranda.
Despite it not being a big problem at USF currently, Miranda hopes that the week-long effort will reaffirm campus organizations commitment to prevent hazing in the future.
She also encourages students to speak up when they encounter issues.
“Have the courage to speak up and speak against hazing - people have died,” said Miranda. “We’re supposed to take care of each other.”
The university has many resources in place through which students can educate themselves on how to prevent hazing. You can find them here.