SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 4, 2017 — Drury University, a private, liberal arts school in Springfield, Missouri, is launching a comprehensive, innovative new effort to combat hazing on its campus. The changes are the result of recommendations by a blue-ribbon committee formed at the direction of Drury President Dr. Tim Cloyd following a high-profile hazing incident involving one of Drury’s athletics teams. The committee’s final report was released today, and is available online.
Cloyd tasked the committee to develop a program for Drury’s campus that would eradicate hazing and could potentially serve as a national model for other colleges and universities across the country. The committee, comprised of students, faculty, and community leaders, was led by Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Tijuana Julian, Swimming & Diving Coach Brian Reynolds, and Athletic Director Mark Fisher.
“Our committee took a systematic, campus-wide view of the issue and brought forth recommendations that help to clearly define what hazing is, better educate our students about why the practice is so detrimental, and open up avenues for them to find truly constructive and inclusive ways to build bonds with one another,” Julian says. “This approach makes it clear that we will not tolerate hazing at Drury University.”
Central to the program is an effort to empower students to change behavior, and use open lines of communication with faculty, staff, and coaches to report any activity that could be considered hazing. All athletic team captains and leaders, Greek leaders, and presidents of all other organizations are required to take a for-credit class on Leadership and Team Development that includes academic studies and case studies on hazing. In addition, the program calls for a mandatory retreat for leaders that focuses on developing positive team-building skills.
Additional changes include a broad commitment to education across campus, numerous policy changes, weaving the program into the university curriculum, and anonymous surveys of student-athletes.
Many of the recommendations outlined in the report are already underway, and will continue throughout the academic year before being evaluated and adjusted as needed each year. Highlights of the committee’s recommendations include:
Understanding that education alone is not enough, the committee recommendations are focused on creating a program that changes behavior through action, empowerment and accountability.
Captains retreat and core covenants – Prior to the start of the school year, athletic team captains will participate in an all-day retreat with the goal of creating a “team of leaders” who are empowered to build a unified culture of accountability and respect within the Drury athletic department. The captains work together to create a set of core covenants that will guide their behavior and decision-making throughout the year. These student-athletes also will be required to take a one credit-hour course in leadership development as part of their duties as team captains. A parallel retreat will be held for Greek organizations in January. The retreats will continue to be held annually.
Expanded education – Educational sessions will be held for each team at the start of every school year, covering topics including NCAA compliance, review of the Athletic Code of Conduct and the Student Athletic Handbook, and bystander intervention training by one of Drury’s Green Dot Program facilitators.
Student honor code – New this year, all incoming freshman have signed a pledge to abide by an honor code that calls on members of the Drury community to treat others with mutual respect, refrain from bullying and intimidation, and to let “honesty guide my every action.” Additionally, freshman heard messages about hazing during their four-day orientation that included education about what hazing is, and how to report it on campus, including anonymously.
Policy Changes & Sanctions – Drury amended its policies to be more clear about what constitutes hazing, recognizing three distinct categories of behavior: subtle, harassment and violent hazing. Additionally, sanctions for all levels of hazing were increased to reflect the seriousness and severity of each, with the university reserving the right to impose the strictest penalties in any hazing situation – up to and including expulsion.
Reporting obligations – All faculty and staff employees have an obligation to report hazing to the university if they become aware of, witness or otherwise obtain information about such behavior. Failure to do so can result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Steps have been taken to make the hazing reporting process more closely parallel that of sexual assault under Title IX, which has been a standard for student conduct oversight for decades.
In the coming weeks and months, Drury administrators and coaches will share the report’s findings and recommendations with other universities around the nation and K12 schools in the region, with the goal of providing others with takeaways and ideas they can use to stem hazing at their institutions.
“We recognize that these kinds of plans are not one-size-fits-all,” Reynolds, Drury’s swimming coach, says. “However, we want to lead by example and do whatever we can to share what we have learned and help other institutions prevent their students from experiencing the negative effects of hazing.”
To download the full report, and see videos about the changes taking place, go to www.drury.edu/hazing.
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