Adam Giery came to the University of Connecticut Tuesday night to talk to Greek Life about his experience with hazing and the consequences it had on his fraternity.
Giery had been an active member of the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon and became incredibly close with his brothers. They started multiple businesses together, many of which have been very successful and lucrative for Giery. They stood by him through all of his business ventures and on his wedding day. Overall, Giery said Greek Life helped him to become who he is today. Unfortunately, he can never return to his frat house because a couple of his brothers made a new member drink enough to be hospitalized, and his chapter got shut down.
Giery turned to the fraternities and sororities in the audience and asked them why they joined Greek Life. Some said it was because it made a big school like UConn a lot smaller. Others said it was for the strong role models that are always there to support them. Giery pointed out that “no one said they joined a sorority or fraternity to haze kids.”
Giery broke down what hazing was defined as at UConn over a few slides. It is an activity with the purpose of initiation that “humiliates, degrades or risks emotional, psychological, and/or physical harm,” and it doesn’t matter if the victim is willing to do it or not, according to Giery’s slides. He then broke down examples from campus that were reported to him by UConn of physical hazing such as forced alcohol, physical assault and humiliation by feces and urine, and mental hazing such as body shaming, derogatory nicknames and cleaning a personal home. He reminded the crowd that since UConn is aware that these types of hazing occur, it is only a matter of time before their houses are shut down too unless they do something about it.
“I think that hazing is an issue that a lot of people don’t want to address and I think it’s really nice to have someone who’s so candid about the experience,” Haley Anderson, a fifth-semester finance major, said. “Not only at UConn, but nationally I think it’s really important that people understand and become aware of the situation at hand, so that we can preserve Greek Life.”
Giery gave a list of five steps that a single person could take on to reform their organization. The first was to look into the mirror and see what is at stake by hazing people. Hazing is an offense that can result in termination or suspension from school, as well as prosecution that can end in a criminal record and jail time. Participating in it can ruin your life. The second step is to return to the founding principles that your organization was built on. Whether those principles were to support each other or be studious, there is no way any organization was created to promote hurting others. The third step is to be transparent and make a clear outline of what will be expected of the new member process, so that there can be no sort of dangerous deviation and pledges know what they’re getting into. The fourth step is a chapter review, which means the removal of those who are perpetuating the hazing tradition. The fifth step is to directly report hazing issues to campus leaders.
“[I definitely took away] the importance of holding all our members accountable regardless of what’s going on in our chapter, if we think it’s voluntary or involuntary,” Casey Gargano, a seventh-semester economics and urban and communities studies double-major and Panhellenic President, said. “[As well as] holding our members to the highest standard because there are situations where, in these examples, death have occurred and we want to make sure this doesn’t happen on our campus. And even if our own organization or other organizations in our council do not engage in these behaviors, also holding that same standard for our other councils and other members of our Greek community.”
After his fraternity had been shut down, Giery was asked to stay inside of the empty frat house in case recolonization occurred. Giery said that the loneliness and sadness he felt during that time was completely preventable if he or anyone else in his fraternity had taken action and reported the hazing. Today his frat house is occupied by a sorority.
“By the end of the day I was the last man out, and I lost everything just to haze one last pledge class,” Giery said.
Rebecca Maher is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.