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UNI administrator says hazing happens when group dynamics go awry

May 8, 2003

Guy Sims, associate director, Maucker Union, (319) 273-2683
Gwenne Culpepper, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761

Guy Sims, associate director of UNI's Maucker Union, routinely sponsors training and programming about group dynamics. He knows what kinds of environments can foster discrimination, ostracization and hazing.

He says hazing's 'hey day' occurred during the '50s, when it was common knowledge that young men seeking fraternity membership were forced to participate in activities like eating goldfish and submitting to paddlings. Such behavior has continued for decades, and occasionally results in serious injury or death. 'And that's when attention is drawn to it,' he said.

Sims has seen the video showing senior girls in Illinois pummeling junior girls, forcing them to eat garbage, pouring paint over their heads and injuring some so badly that hospitalization was required. He said hazing can only occur in a certain kind of environment.

'You have to have some level of secrecy, and you have to remove the mature, responsible individuals from the scene,' he explained. 'The people at the ground level of the organization are the ones who are going to carry out this kind of behavior. They feel like they have a stake in the organization, and that you can't obtain membership without enduring the same kind of hazing they did -- or worse.'