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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Your daily fun fact: In Florida, hazing is a third-degree felony if it results in serious injury or death. The "antihazing law" was passed in 2005, after lawmakers pushed for legislation following the death of a University of Miami student in 2001.

Why are we raising this point? Because the UF chapter of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity was suspended after - you guessed it - hazing accusations.

A letter from Chris Loschiavo, director of Student Judicial Affairs, said the fraternity is suspended until further notice while allegations of hazing are investigated. ATO has been accused of forcing new members to clean rooms in the fraternity's house and serve as designated drivers at all times, including the middle of the night. ATO has also been accused of depriving new members of sleep.

Sleep deprivation, as college students know, has many adverse effects, including increased anxiety, delayed reaction time and sometimes even death. It is also considered a form of torture, according to the American Psychological Association.

These hazing allegations go against not only Florida law, but also the UF Student Conduct Code and the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Affairs' antihazing contract. Part of the contract is lifted straight from the Florida law, which specifically addresses sleep deprivation. "House clean-ups" are also a violation of the contract.

This is not just a UF issue. This is not just a moral issue. This is a legal issue.

Hazing is never acceptable, especially from people in organizations who try to portray themselves as leaders on campus and in the community. We're not so gullible as to believe ATO is the only group that might be hazing its members, but it is the group under investigation. If the allegations are true, any members found guilty of participating should be punished not only by UF but also by the state. The only way to deter future hazing is to make the punishment harsh enough.

Hazing should never be taken lightly. It should be completely unacceptable to the Greek community - not just on the surface in antihazing contracts, but in the halls of the houses, too.

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