Rally Against Hazing Draws Crowd and Media
The event was in response to an alleged off-campus hazing incident being investigated by the state attorney’s office.
USF.edu News Writer
TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 2, 2010) – The University of South Florida’s Greek community gathered for a rally against hazing Thursday afternoon that was organized in the wake of a recent off-campus incident that resulted in the suspension of the local chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.
With less than two day’s notice, fraternity and sorority members prepared signs and had buttons made to spread their message – “Hazing Has No Place in Our Community,” “Greeks Uphold Scholarship, Values, Lifelong Bonds and Principles,” and “Greek Bulls Don’t Haze.”
That message was echoed by each of the speakers at the rally, including organizer Nicole Garcia, a USF Student Government senator from the College of Arts and Sciences; Patrick Romero-Aldaz, director of the university’s Fraternity & Sorority Life office; Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Kevin Banks; Student Government Vice President and Inter-Fraternity Council member Spencer Montgomery; Jeff Smalls, Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. chapter vice president; and Viancca Williams, student programs coordinator in Fraternity & Sorority Life.
The event, attended by more than 100 people, attracted coverage from nearly all local media outlets. Smalls made it a point to encourage the reporters to focus on more positive stories especially because of what he termed public “backlash” against fraternities and sororities.
“We should receive this kind of coverage when we do philanthropic work and community service,” Smalls, a senior majoring in mass communication, said. “This comes off as if all Greeks are about hazing and partying. We’re about community service. We do a lot in the community outsiders don’t see.”
Banks emphasized the university’s commitment to providing a safe and secure environment at USF and urged the audience not to paint all Greek organizations with one brush. He also praised those at the rally for showing they care about the community.
“I’m proud to see that we’re holding each other accountable,” he said. “If you hear of anything, say something.”
In the crowd, Eileen Vazquez, a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity, said, “That incident does not represent how Greeks are. It’s an isolated occurrence.”
Garcia and Montgomery urged everyone to talk against hazing throughout the Greek community, especially at a time when the Greek organizations are all involved in recruitment activities during the first weeks of school. Garcia also asked everyone present to take the pledge against hazing and sign an anti-hazing banner that will be installed in the Marshall Student Center.
“We’re proud of our students, we are values-based organizations. We’re so much stronger than just one chapter,” Montgomery said.
Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.