University participates in hazing teleconference

Men forced to wear women’s underwear, students forced to drink warm beer and non-drinkers forced to drink bad-tasting combinations of hard alcohol are some of the examples of hazing recorded across the country in the last couple years.

Hazing at the University of Vermont resulted in a lawsuit and the men’s ice hockey team terminating its last 15 regular-season games. That incident prompted Vermont to organize a national teleconference Monday on hazing that UW-Eau Claire participated in.

Athletic director Marilyn Skrivseth invited anyone to attend.

“It was designed to make sure coaches and students realize the negative impact hazing has on a team,” Skrivseth said. “Every year there (are) always one or more deaths from an incident that gets out of control.”

She said the conference was videotaped so athletes who were not able to attend will have a chance to watch it.

The conference, held from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. via satellite in room 162 of McPhee, hosted three experts on the subject.

Hank Nuwer, a journalism professor at Purdue University and author of three books on hazing, was one of the featured experts.

Topics covered at the conference included why hazing is difficult to define and understand, what the group dynamics are behind secret initiation rites and what alternatives can be offered in place of hazing.

The experts offered their opinions on the issue, and participants across the country were able to e-mail questions during the live broadcast.

Skrivseth said the conference mainly focused on positive ways for teams to build chemistry.

Hazing is most common with athletes and Greek members, Skrivseth said.

Todd Hoffner, the Eau Claire head football coach doesn’t see it being an issue with his team.

“To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think it is a problem,” Hoffner said.

“We don’t encourage those types of activities.”

Jane C. Meyer, Senior Associate Director of Athletics at The University of Iowa, and Charles Eberly, president of the Center for the Study of the College Fraternity and Counseling professor at Eastern Illinois University, were the other experts taking part in the days discussion.

Estelle P. Maartmann-Moe, director of the Center for Health & Well-being at The University of Vermont, was the moderator for the conference.

Skrivseth said student athletes and Greek members also participated in the teleconference.