Hundreds of sorority members gathered in Isla Vista Theater Monday night for a workshop against hazing and alcohol abuse organized by the UCSB Panhellenic Council.
Piper Presley, vice president of risk management for the Collegiate Panhellenic Council and sophomore communication major, said the workshop fulfilled two of the requirements for discussion that sororities must meet every Fall Quarter. Ordinarily, each sorority would have to discuss the four topics – alcohol and other drugs, hazing, eating disorders and sexual assault – on their own time, Presley said.
The program for the night consisted of a presentation on hazing by speaker Eddie Dominguez, greek adviser at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, followed by a performance about alcohol awareness by the students of Dramatic Art 90. Before the workshop began, the drama students passed out evaluation sheets asking for feedback on the performance.
Dominguez began with a PowerPoint presentation titled “Hazing in Today’s World.” He said while preparing to speak at the workshop he had tried to think of an answer to the question, “Why does hazing happen?”
“I figured it was time to think about my own college experience and not to look at the shows ‘Fraternity Life’ and ‘Sorority Life’ as examples,” Dominguez said.
The presentation began with a video clip from the coverage of the recent hazing incident at Glenbrook North High School in Illinois, in which several members of a girls’ powder puff football team verbally and physically abused a group of younger players. Dominguez said his aim was not to condemn hazing, but to encourage members of the greek system to keep it from becoming harmful or damaging.
“I don’t want to stand up here and say to you that hazing is wrong, that you shouldn’t be doing it,” Dominguez said.
Rather, Dominguez said he wanted the workshop to focus on why hazing happens, and how violent situations like the Glenbrook incident can be avoided.
“I, in fact, was hazed,” Dominguez said. “As I became an active member, I continued that so-called tradition.”
Dominguez then talked about the warning signs of hazing and presented audience members with a list of questions to ask themselves when faced with a potentially dangerous hazing situation. He also discussed the penalties that students can face if convicted of hazing, including a three-year suspension of scholarships and financial aid.
“All hazing incidents are subject to college judicial hearings,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez talked about an incident that happened at a college he used to work at in Wisconsin that almost resulted in the death of four fraternity pledges. He said many active members in fraternities and sororities use tradition to justify hazing, and that pledges often want so badly to become members that they allow themselves to be abused.
“If you want to stop hazing, it takes a very strong person to do that,” Dominguez said. “I think greek organizations are just the organizations to do it.”
The students of DA 90, which is a community theatre class focused on student health issues, created the play to help the sororities fulfill their alcohol education requirement. To begin the performance, an actor took the stage and said in a monotone voice, “Myth number one: All UCSB students drink alcohol.”
Music then started playing as several performers seated themselves around a table laden with bottles of alcohol. They reenacted a night in I.V., playing drinking games while arguing and stumbling around the stage.
They were replaced by an actor who made a mock public service announcement about checking people who pass out on the floor at parties for alcohol poisoning. “Kick your friends,” he said. “Please, kick them.”
The class portrayed several more situations that college students – not just sorority members- face on a regular basis, ranging from drinking too much to date rape. Some characters appeared multiple times during the performance, like the girl who talked constantly about her boyfriend back home while getting progressively more and more drunk, eventually waking up in another man’s bed.
Presley said the performance was a refreshing change of pace from the usual discussions the sororities have to endure each Fall Quarter.
“We hear the same speakers over and over,” Presley said. “We have to do this, so it was nice to see the material presented so differently.”
The topics presented by the class were very relevant, senior law and society major and Gamma Phi Beta member Kristine Phillips said.
“[The performance] was very easy to relate to,” Phillips said. “A lot of the things they talked about have happened to me.”
Melissa Petersen, a sophomore film studies major who is also in Gamma Phi Beta, said the quality of the performance took her by surprise.
“People didn’t expect it to be that real,” Petersen said. “I was surprised that it was so realistic.”
Amanda Martinez, greek affairs intern, vice president of Panhellenic finance, junior psychology and religious studies major and member of Alpha Epsilon Phi, said she thinks Dominguez’s presentation showed hazing from a perspective outside of UCSB.
“It was informative for us because it was someone not from our campus,” Martinez said. “It wasn’t us it was coming from.”