by Keith Ellis (University of South Carolina) and Daniel Fusch (Academic Impressions)
A few weeks ago, Sigma Alpha Epsilon announced that it would end pledging entirely, as an attempt to reform the fraternity's culture and prevent hazing. Various news sources commented on how the decision came on the heels of a Bloomberg investigation that had dubbed SAE the "deadliest fraternity" after finding that there had been nine deaths at SAE events since 2006.
Wanting to learn more about the implications of SAE's move and what institutions can learn from the story, we reached out to Keith Ellis, the University of South Carolina's director of residence life, who has been recognized nationally for his efforts in hazing prevention, risk management education, and leading change in fraternity and sorority communities across the southeastern United States.
The following is a transcript of our interview with Keith Ellis.
REVIEWING THE CHALLENGE
Many campuses only become aware of hazing issues after a crisis, prompting a reactive approach to fix the problem. Hazing prevention initiatives are not new, but often fall flat because they do not take into account the underlying cultural change that must occur to address this systemic challenge.
Preventing Hazing: An Interview with Keith Ellis
Daniel Fusch (Academic Impressions): Keith, thank you for sharing your expertise with us. Thinking of SAE's recent decision, what should institutions especially take note of? What should they take away from this story?