Mary Breaux Wright

International President
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated

It is our responsibility, as a community-conscious and action- oriented organization, to safeguard Zeta Phi Beta Sorority’s legacy by exemplifying positive images of the sorority and the highest ideals of Finer Womanhood. Therefore, the culture of hazing is counterproductive to these efforts.

Scarlet H. Black

National Director of Anti-Hazing “Finer Women Don’t Haze”
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

“Finer Women Don’t Haze” was developed around Zeta Phi Beta Sorority’s founding principle of “Finer Womanhood” and to provide immediate attention on the culture of hazing that continues to display itself in our communities, organizations, and society as a whole. As we move closer to our Centennial in 2020, we must take every opportunity to redouble our collective efforts to eradicate hazing in any form or fashion regardless of where it is found.

ADDRESSING INCIDENTS OF HAZING

FWDH History
ΖΦΒ Addresses Hazing
members’ reflections

NEW COMPLAINT & DISCIPLINE POLICY SUMMARY

OVERVIEW

This document summarizes the reporting, investigation, and potential disciplinary actions for violations of the rules, policies, and/or principles of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated (the “Sorority”) by members and individuals who are seeking membership. This includes, but is not limited to, violations of the Sorority’s anti-hazing policies.

    • A member’s failure to follow policies and procedures described in our Constitution & Bylaws, Handbook, Code of Conduct, Policy Against Hazing, and other documents can result in disciplinary action taken by the Sorority.
Download Complete Summary

“this is who we are”

You may not copy, distribute, change, or transmit any text, images, audio, or video for public or commercial purposes without the express permission of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated

FAQS & Resources

what is hazing?

Hazing is often linked to sororities, fraternities, bands, social clubs, sports, military, and other organized associations. However, what hazing is really takes on different meanings depending on who is doing the hazing and who is being hazed. For our purposes in Finer Women Don’t Haze, a few definitions of hazing are noted below.

the definition of hazing varies from state to state:

Hazing has been defined as an abusive, often humiliating, form of initiation into or affiliation with a group. It can include any willful action taken or situation created which recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health of another.

zeta phi beta sorority’s position on hazing:

Hazing in any form or fashion is contrary to the philosophy and objectives of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, and as such, the Sorority emphatically prohibits and denounces hazing. Therefore, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority defines hazing as any action or activity which…

  • brings about physical, mental, emotional or psychological harm to the potential member or is humiliating in its intent;
  • is vulgar, abusive, physically exhausting or dangerous;
  • materially disrupts an individual’s academic, professional, and personal endeavors;
  • abridges a person’s moral, religious or dietary beliefs;
  • compels an individual to break the rules and regulations of her college or university, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated or other entities; or
  • is defined as hazing under applicable laws.
... ... ...

national pan-hellenic council, council of presidents official statement on what is hazing?

WHEREAS the definition of hazing has been held to include any action taken or situation created that involves or results in abusive, physical contact or mutual harassment of a prospective Fraternity or Sorority member; and that any such action is considered hazing, whether it occurs on or off the Fraternity or Sorority premises, campus or place where chapters or prospective members meet; and that hazing has also been described to include any action that results in excessive mutual or physical discomfort, embarrassment or harassment; that such activities include, but are not limited to paddling, creation of excessive fatigue, physical or psychological shock, morally degrading or humiliating activities, late work sessions that interfere with scholastic activities and any other activities inconsistent with fraternal law and regulations and policies of the affiliated educational institution and federal, state or local laws.

hazing laws and penalties

It is important to become familiar with the laws in your own state surrounding hazing and the subsequent penalties that are the result of these laws. Currently, there are forty-four (44) states that have anti-hazing laws. Some of these states have very strict laws where hazing constitutes a felony and “jail” time could be a consequence. Others consider hazing a misdemeanor. It should also be noted there is no federal law against hazing. However, in 2012, U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, a Democrat from Tallahassee, Florida, representing the 17th District, proposed legislation for a federal anti-hazing law. The proposed legislation, known as “Halting Hazing Act of 2012”, would end financial aid for students who participate in hazing. A conviction of hazing would also be a felony. While a federal anti-hazing law has yet to be passed, in her proposed legislation, Congresswoman Wilson pointed out there have been 163 deaths attributed to hazing since the 1800’s. She noted that one incident is one too many.

2015 survey results

contact director

scarlet h. black

sblacknationaldirectorFWDH@aol.com

Left to Right- Scarlet H. Black, Al Sharpton, Jimmy Hammock

Case Studies

A young woman was a student at a large university. As an African-American at an institution with a very small minority population, she was seeking a way to belong and fit in, and membership in an NPHC Sorority seemed to offer that opportunity. She was assured that the intake process would be safe and would include no violence or hazing.

At first, the intake process followed the guidelines described in the Sorority’s application materials. But then, graduate members showed up one evening. They called the new sorors paper, not real members. They told the officers that the only way a black woman could gain respect among her peers in the community was to be made the real way. They seemed to say, ”I experienced it, and if this person is going to be a legitimate member, they must experience this, too.”

At that point, the intake experience changed dramatically. According to the young woman, over the course of the next several weeks:

  • Graduate members beat her and another aspirant repeatedly on the head until a third aspirant could finish reciting the history of the Sorority.
  • Members poured juice on the floor and made her clean it up with her back, then tore her shirt off.
  • Members slammed her face into the wall, making her lip bleed profusely.
  • Members made her stay awake all night.
  • She was forbidden from going to the bathroom, causing her to pee her pants.

When she threatened to quit, the active members told her that they “loved” the aspirants and their actions were intended to strengthen the bonds of their line. They also told her that she would be ostracized on campus if she left. Although she felt pressured to remain, she eventually left the Sorority.
As a result of the intake activities, she left school and was forced to seek counseling as a consequence of her treatment. She sued the Sorority for punitive damages and lost future wages. Parties to the lawsuit included the Sorority, the campus chapter and individual members.

A young woman was a student at a HBCU, and was interested in the Sorority community there. Her mother was a Sorority member, and both the young woman and her mother hoped that her legacy status would lead to membership in the Sorority. When she was invited to join, the young woman was thrilled. The intake process was exactly as the Sorority had described, and the young woman became a member.

One evening soon after, the young woman received a text message to meet at 4:00 the next morning at the track of a nearby high school, dressed totally in black and to be prepared to sweat. She joined the other new members as requested.

Older members told the new members that they would be exercising together at the instruction of the older Sorors, and that if anyone messed up or couldn’t keep up, the length of time of the session would be extended. No water would be available either.
Exercises included:

  • Running up and down stadium steps
  • Push-ups
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Wall sits
  • Running the track in line, with the final runner required to sprint to the beginning of the line at the direction of the active members.

Older Sorors did not participate in the exercises, but observed from the sidelines, yelling criticisms and abuse at the aspirants. It was during this run that the young woman collapsed from exhaustion. The older Sorors berated her, telling her to get up, she was letting her line down. She tried to rise, but instead passed out.

The new members were told to keep running while they tried to decide what to do. They poured water on the young woman’s face, and tried to get her to drink, to no avail. Finally, they decided to cut the activity short and head back to campus. They brought the young woman back to her residence hall room and left her. When the young woman’s roommate returned, she found her roommate unresponsive and called 911. The young woman was taken to the hospital, where she later died. An autopsy showed that she died because of a rare medical syndrome that can be triggered by strenuous exertion. Her death was attributed to “acute exertional rhabdomyolysis,” a syndrome linked to sudden deaths of military recruits and athletes.

Archived Case Studies

Five aspirants were in the last few weeks of their membership intake process. The intake was also taking place during the same time of the university’s homecoming activities and one of the biggest football games of the year. Two former members of this undergraduate chapter heard about the latest intake or what they called “a line” and decided they wanted to see how the old chapter was doing and to check out the new recruits. They planned to be at homecoming so this would give them the best time to visit. The two former members of the chapter never connected with a graduate chapter after graduation and had been unfinancial for eight years. They contacted the Basileus of the undergraduate chapter and got the details on where they would be meeting with the five aspirants. The chapter Basileus had no problem about them coming to the meeting and being introduced to the aspirants and the current members of their old undergraduate chapter. It would be a great reunion. During the meeting with the aspirants, the two former members were allowed to participate and speak with the aspirants. One aspirant was singled out because the two former members did not think she had what it took to be a Zeta. After some yelling and profane remarks, the aspirant was extremely upset and very uncomfortable. She looked to the chapter Basileus and the other members for help but no one made any type of objection.
The Vice President of Student Affairs at a well-known university has received a telephone call from the mother of a student who has become a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. The mother tells the Vice-President that her daughter reported that she was physically assaulted when she was going through intake to become a member of the sorority. She stated that her daughter was continuing to be harassed and threatened with physical harm if she did not follow the chapter’s directions and if she ever told anyone. The student’s mother never attended college so she is fearful of what is happening and what to do. However, the mother’s sister is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and lives in another region from where her niece’s chapter is located. The mother has told her sister about what her daughter reported to her. The aunt is outraged and makes contact with National Headquarters about the concerns that have now come to light. The daughter no longer attends chapter meetings, activities, or events. She even changed her schedule to avoid being in class with two members of the chapter. One of these two was even in her intake class.

Changing the Culture of Hazing

HERE IS WHAT WE KNOW:

      • 1.5 million high school students are hazed each year
      • 92% will not report being hazed
      • 10% of college students will admit to being hazed
      • 36% of college students will not report hazing
      • 46% of college students are aware of hazing but will remain silent

It is clear that by the time a boy or girl leaves high school, an encounter with bullying and/or hazing has already taken place either as the initiator or the recipient. With the high incidents of non-reporting a bullying and/or hazing situation, how can the culture of hazing in our society be slowed, curtailed, and eradicated?

There are no illusions or myths that any program, such as “Finer Women Don’t Haze” Campaign (FWDH), strategy, slogan, current laws, or jargon is going to dramatically or significantly change the culture of hazing overnight or instantly. However, we must begin somewhere and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated must offer its voice in this discourse by………

      • recognizing that hazing is real and co-exists with our policies and procedures against hazing
      • bringing awareness and attention to an issue that is kept underground, in secret, hidden, and unspoken
      • promoting open dialogue and discussion in the Greek-letter community, campuses, local schools, churches, community-wide organizations, etc. on the issue of hazing
      • networking with other Greek-letter fraternities/sororities, national, state, and local community organizations by providing programs in elementary, middle, and high schools that addresses
      • contacting lawmakers at the local, state, and federal levels to strengthen current laws and pass

types of hazing have included the following:

This type of hazing is often thought of as harmless or insignificant. The behavior usually involves activities or attitudes that cross the line of mutual respect, appropriate standards, and places the individual on the receiving end of ridicule and/or humiliation practices. This type of hazing will be endured or tolerated because the individual feels it is part of becoming a member of the group or team.
This type of hazing is psychologically abusive and can leave long-lasting emotional scars. Yelling, demeaning name calling, profane remarks, drills, line-ups, threats, silence, isolation, being singled out for demeaning duties not assigned to others, running errands, or carrying out other types of servitude.
This type of hazing behavior is extremely dangerous and can cause serious physical/psychological harm and in some cases death. This type of hazing can trigger a predisposed medical or psychological condition. Since the 1800s, 163 deaths have been attributed to this form of hazing. The behaviors include branding, paddling, punching, placed in dangerous situations or facilities.
This is a relative new form of hazing that exposes an individual to communications made through e-mails, cell phones, unauthorized posted pictures on websites and/or other social media, internet chat rooms, other telecommunications by seeking to intimidate, control, manipulate, stalk, torment, harass, ridicule, put down, falsely discredit, and/or humiliate the recipient of cyber-bullying. This type of hazing behavior is deliberate, repeated, and hostile. Cyber-Bullying target can also result in psychological/emotional scars that are long-lasting. Please check your state for the laws concerning Cyber-Bullying. In some states, it is a Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanor depending on the age of the individual being cyber-bullied.
This type of hazing is passed down through stories about how it was during “their day” and how it made the individual a “real” member of the group or team. Generational hazing consistently talks about being made “the right way.” Often graduates or old members of a group or organization will come back to relive how it was during “their day” and distort this type of behavior as fun and harmless. It is not! This type of hazing is often underground, hidden, and kept silent.
Alcohol and drugs affects all of the types of hazing discussed here and often contributes to physical and psychological/emotional harm. Alcohol and drugs can intensify an already troubling situation. Alcohol and drug usage is also denounced in many college/universities Code of Conduct, as well as applicable law enforcement statutes.

While the types of hazing described in this link are not inclusive, it should be noted that these behaviors are illegal in many states and can cause suspension/expulsion from the college/university, the sorority/fraternity, organization, arrests, a career, etc.

the question to ask… is it worth it???

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