Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Hazing on Campus

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, WITF's Smart Talk | May 31, 2017 8:00 PM

(photo: LA Times)


On the Thursday June 1st, 2017 edition of WITF's Smar Talk:

Fifty-five percent of college students who join clubs, sports teams and Greek organizations experience hazing in some form.  This can include physical activity, physical abuse, public humiliation, and forced alcohol consumption.  Statistics are difficult to collate as the perpetrators are often affiliated with secret societies and there is immense pressure on the victims to protect the fraternities and sororities.

There have been 16 hazing deaths in the US since 2010.  This includes Timothy Piazza, a Penn State sophomore who fell down a flight of stairs after binge drinking as part of the Beta Theta Pi's fraternity pledge program.  Piazza was left unattended in the fraternity's house for 12 hours, he later died in the hospital.  Eighteen members of the Beta Theta Pi house are facing criminal charges as a result; eight of those are facing involuntary manslaughter.

This case shines a light on initiation practices - not only in Greek organizations, but on sports teams, bands - even in the military.  Smart Talk will discuss the reasons young people tend to hurt their peers as some adolescent test of loyalty and efforts to curb this behavior.  Emily Pualwan, Executive Director of will help define hazing and outline the scope of the problem.  Lianne Kowiak is a board member of and will share the story of her son, Harrison, who lost his life in a hazing tragedy.


Harrison and Lianne Kowiak

Smart Talk will also explore the psychology of "group-think" - that part of the human brain that allows a person to abandon their values to adhere to the continuity of a crowd.  Dr. Timothy Marchell, a clinical psychologist and Director of Skorton Center for Health Initiatives at Cornell University, will join us to parse out the reason college students are especially susceptible to the dangers of "group-think" behaviors.


- It's important to note that the most violent behaviors happen in MALE clubs.  Are there men in your organization helping as role models? It's important to talk about the social construction of masculinity and how this behavior relates to this broader issue.               - Susan

tweeted by @KLEHouser:  Sexual Violence in hazing is s sexual violence & should be charged as such & the word "hazing" should not be used to hide/sanitize.

I haven't been listening intently but when I heard the subject of this hour I wanted to bring up our cultures lack of coming of age rituals, the desire to test people, or welcome people into adulthood has existed in almost every culture and every time period but it expresses itself differently. I think the desire to welcome people into adulthood in some way, or to mark the occasion, is part of what has perpetuated hazing.

 I think as a culture, there is a need to develop some type of coming of age ritual that is meaningful that does not involve drugs or alcohol. I don't have a solution, however, I think it's a place for people to start.                                                    - anon

- I agree with the lady who said we need to have personal responsibility.

When I was in school, my mom asked me one time, why aren't you hanging out with Chris anymore (my childhood best friend). I answered her "You don't want me hanging out with Chris anymore".  He had gotten into some bad things.

Hazing is wrong and Stupid  but we all need but responsible for ourselves first and mankind second                                                           - Blaine 


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