'Haze' sends serious message to MSU students

The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life teamed up with Health Promotion and Wellness to host the film screening of "Haze" on Sept. 25 in the Bettersworth Auditorium at Mississippi State University. The film was a part of the "These Hands Don’t Haze," a component of Greek Week on campus and National Hazing Prevention Week.

The film centered around the story of a young man named Gordie Bailey who was a freshman at the University of Colorado in 2004. He had recently pledged the fraternity Chi Psi, and was taken to a celebration in the woods with his new brothers after bid day.

The active members of Chi Psi left the pledges in the woods with large amounts of alcohol and were told they were not to return to the house until it was gone. After the pledges consumed ridiculous amounts of alcohol, they returned to the Chi Psi house where they played drinking games, and many of them became very ill from the alcohol they drank, including Gordie. Gordie passed out and his brothers placed him on a couch in the living room, not to be checked on again.

When Gordie was found the next morning, he was laying on the floor, face down, covered in vomit and had rude phrases written all over his body in permanent marker. The paramedics arrived and immediately determined Gordie had died an alcohol-related death due to hazing from his Chi Psi brothers.

Hazing is a very serious problem, not only at the University of Colorado, but also at most universities around the U.S.

John Michael Vanhorn, who is the associate director for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said MSU showed this film because hazing happens in many organizations on campus, including sororities, fraternities, athletic teams, clubs and bands. Vanhorn said he wanted the campus and community to recognize hazing is a serious problem students face.

Hazing is not normal or acceptable, but many students come from high school where they have already experienced forms of hazing, and consider it normal when they enter the MSU community. 

The purpose of this film was to shed light on and start a conversation about the serious issues of hazing. Many people do not realize how common and real hazing actually is, and that it could be happening so close to them.

Kayla Brownlee, a junior and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, said the content of the film was shocking, but important for people to understand.

"I did not know anything about this issue and that the film was very eye-opening," Brownlee said.

Shantee Johnson, health and wellness coordinator, said she and the Health Promotion and Wellness office strive to provide education to students on the seriousness of hazing, and let them know about the many resources available to them as MSU students.            

Some of these resources include the counseling center, the Health Promotion and Wellness office and the Dean of Students office.  

Following the film was a panel discussion where questions about the movie were answered. Members of the panel included Nick Gordon, assistant director of Student Conduct, Lateshia Butler, compliance specialist at the Office of Compliance and Integrity, and Katie Malone, professor at the Mississippi University for Women.

They described their reactions to the film as "heartbreaking" and "real life" while explaining how Gordie’s situation could have been avoided entirely if just one person would have called for help when they saw he was unconscious and not breathing.

The film was a very eye-opening experience for many students, and proved hazing and alcohol-related deaths can happen to anyone. This film will hopefully inspire students to take alcohol abuse seriously, and to never overindulge in drinking, even when they are pressured by friends.

Students should have the courage to report hazing if it is happening to them or someone they know, in hopes of ending this serious issue.

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