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Student's Anti-Hazing Efforts Receives National Recognition

SUNY Plattsburgh graduate student Sarah Wild recently received the national Hank Nuwer Anti-Hazing Hero Award from HazingPrevention.Org.

Wild, who is working toward a master’s degree in student affairs counseling, joined the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority in the fall of 2009. She said the sorority psychologically hazed her and other pledges. Dressing up in embarrassing apparel and performing song and dances for older sisters were some of the smaller incidents that made a big impact on Wild.

“It made me feel belittled and small,” she said.

After she was initiated, Wild decided to take a stand against hazing. She started with her own sorority by running for president the following year.

“There were definitely sisters who supported me, but the loud, select few who were really determined to continue the behavior often overshadowed previous efforts to discontinue the behavior,” Wild said.

Wild persisted with help from the Interfraternity Council/Inter-Sorority Association Hazing Prevention Committee and Allison Swick-Duttine, director of fraternity and sorority life.

By replacing those behaviors with alternative programs that promote responsibility and accountability, positive changes have come about, according to Wild.

“The new member program that used to involve hazing really bred hate,” Wild said. “We’ve begun to recruit new members that are really motivated and young women who really value what our organization truly stands for.”

SUNY Plattsburgh’s Interfraternity Council/Inter-Sorority Association Hazing Prevention Committee is committed to changing hazing behaviors not only among fraternal organizations, but across campus as well.

“Hazing is not a fraternity and sorority problem,” Swick-Duttine said. “It’s really a societal problem. We can’t really just fix hazing in fraternities and sororities and think that’s going to solve the problem.”

Wild agreed.

“We’re really trying to outreach to the greater SUNY Plattsburgh community on not just awareness, but education and preventative tactics,” Wild said.

Wild credits Dean of Students Steve Matthews, Vice President of Student Affairs Emeritus Bill Laundry and Vice President for Student Affairs Bryan Hartman for supporting her efforts.

“They have all been really supportive of the fraternity and sorority life community, and I think that has really helped in our efforts as an office and as a community together,” she said.

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