The following message was shared with the campus community on Jan. 15, 2019, regarding compliance with the Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law:
Dear Members of the Campus Community,
The Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law—a new Pennsylvania law spurred by the 2017 tragic death of the Penn State sophomore following hazing activity at a fraternity— was recently enacted and is intended to focus on prevention, enforcement, transparency and accountability for hazing activities on college and university campuses. The law is applicable to campus organizations that include clubs, athletic teams, fraternity and sorority chapters and other groups.
We support this legislation and are committed to ending hazing on our campus.
One element of this law is a requirement to publish all reports of hazing violations from 2013 through 2018. That listing is now available on the university’s hazing prevention site, which also includes important information about university and Pennsylvania policies, reporting options and Lehigh’s long-standing efforts to address this important issue.
Based on the number of reports that were made during the past five years, hazing is far too often viewed by students as an accepted form of social bonding or as a typical and harmless rite of initiation. The Piazza tragedy and many other senseless deaths on college campuses underscore the reality that this behavior is far from harmless. It has been accepted for far too long, and that must change.
An important first step is acknowledging a culture that accepts hazing, and vowing to evolve into one that will not tolerate it. Key to that evolution is encouraging students and others to report this behavior, which is critical to holding organizations and individuals accountable. In considering the reports over the past five years, you will note that many investigations were hindered by the lack of corroborating testimony or evidence, or by the anonymity of the reporter. Whether this is borne of fear for retaliation or a casual acceptance of this behavior, this silence is, in effect, a tacit endorsement of hazing. This cannot continue if any cultural change is to happen.
We are posting this information not only in accordance with a new law, but with the hope that sharing these details – however unseemly and disturbing -- will shine the spotlight on this activity and support our view that it is dangerous and completely unacceptable.
We also hope this transparency will encourage others to come forward without the need for anonymity, and to play a pivotal role in helping us address a deeply troubling issue that threatens the lives and well-being of our students.
John D. Simon, President
Patrick V. Farrell, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Ricardo Hall, Vice Provost for Student Affairs