Activist: Eliminate Hazing by Changing Students' Attitudes

Tuesday, 05 Aug 2014 08:01 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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Eradicating hazing from college life requires a change in attitude among students, an anti-hazing activist discussing a Big Ten marching band scandal told Newsmax TV on Tuesday.

Campus officials alone cannot root out a culture that promotes humiliating rites of passage for students, in part because administrators and instructors are often unaware of what's happening in their midst, Tracy Maxwell, founder of, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.

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"We have to really understand and we really have to engage the students being part of the solution," said Maxwell. "We can't just fire people and expect that the problem is going to go away."

Ohio State University dismissed marching band director Jonathan Waters in July for allowing what the school called a "sexualized" culture of initiation rites for student musicians.

Waters, who led a 225-member ensemble hailed for its innovative and eye-catching halftime performances, told investigators he did not tolerate the lewd hazing rituals detailed in a university report.

He said he had been working to discourage band traditions that included sexually themed games and acting-out, explicit nicknames for recruits, and a late-night march in underwear.

When hazing scandals erupt, "We often want to find someone to blame and that seems to be the easiest thing, especially when we're under the glare of the spotlight," said Maxwell, a former campus administrator.

"It's easier to fire someone and think that that is taking the step in the right direction," she said, "when in fact it's not really doing anything to change the culture, which  . . . takes years to embed itself, and it can take a really long time to un-embed itself."

Maxwell said "the most dangerous attitude we can have" is that hazing is just kids being kids, when those practices have led to deaths, injuries and psychological scars among hazing targets.

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