ACU takes pro-active steps to prevent any form of hazing


For Immediate Release
September 16, 1999

Abilene Christian University students and officials are taking pro-active steps to ensure standards concerning state hazing laws are exceeded.

Texas law defines hazing as intentionally, knowingly or recklessly endangering the mental or physical health or safety of a student in connection with that student's participation or membership in a social, service or similar club, group or organization.

After meeting with student social club members during the past two weeks for input, opinion and dialogue, ACU officials distributed a statement and policy on hazing last night as the groups prepared for their annual initiation night for new members called Bid Night.

Bid Night activities start at 5 p.m. on campus Friday and, in many cases, continue all night. The student organizations can take activities off campus as well, but whether on or off campus, a social club or faculty adviser always supervises activities. Bid Night activities typically attract a large number of alumni spectators, even drawing 100 to 200 alumni from out of town.

"Hazing laws are continually being tested across the state, but we are taking pro-active steps at ACU to go beyond compliance to what is exceedingly Christian," said Brent McCall, director of student organizations.

The trend at ACU this year, which McCall said is setting a precedent for future years, is to do away with any activities that do not honor the integrity of a person. Such acts that are not appropriate include public ridicule, any type of personal servitude, excessive sleep deprivation, any acts that cause excessive fatigue or any physical abuse, including forcing prospective members to eat or drink any substances.

"Students are leading this change," McCall said. "That makes me feel good. Leadership is not about being popular, it's about being courageous. Our students are taking some courageous steps and saying 'we're going to be different.'"

Maria Schwenker, president of GATA women's social club, said, "We look at this as an opportunity to take another step with ACU social clubs. We want to have fun and develop close friendships through our club, and we know we can do that without being abusive."

While current students are taking a different approach to club initiations this year, McCall said alumni who return for Bid Night sometimes create the opportunity to re-introduce old concepts.

"Initiation methods for student organizations have covered a broad spectrum throughout ACU's near-100-year history," he said. "What was allowed in 1949 or 1979 may not be appropriate for 1999. Liabilities today are different, and perceptions are different."

Cases in Texas have been documented at other universities where lawsuits resulted from such actions as an egg being dropped on a student's head, a common initiation component for university organizations across the state.

Criteria established in ACU's statement and policy on hazing focuses on Christian standards of conduct, far exceeding minimum expectations for compliance with the law.

"We have discussed and the students have agreed that no initiation activities will occur that current members of the group are not willing to participate in or be a part of themselves," McCall said.

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Last update: Sept. 16, 1999
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