By Raeghan Hilton
Editor’s Note: Raeghan Hilton is the current president of the Delta Zeta sorority.
Hazing and underage drinking are stigmas that follow Greek Life. However, Youngstown State University is continuing to take action against these issues.
There are legal consequences to underage drinking and hazing. With hazing, the charges can vary depending on the severity of the act. More severe incidents can include alcohol or drugs.
Shawn Varso, the chief of police at YSU, explained the legal consequences of hazing.
“It is a second-degree misdemeanor. However, there are extenuating circumstances such as using alcohol, drugs or that, and it kind of enhances it to a felony status. So, if any part of that entails in the hazing it becomes a felony,” Varso said.
Hazing is described on the YSU website as coercing another to do actions of initiation into any student or other organization, or any act to continue membership, that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm.
Caleb Queen, coordinator of Student Involvement and Greek Life advisor, said all YSU organizations are required to complete the Hazing Prevention Module.
The Hazing Prevention Module is provided to educate students about the severity of hazing. It also includes tips on how to recognize signs of hazing.
Greek Life hosts a Hazing Prevention Week in September to raise awareness. This is organized by Greek Campus Life to raise awareness during the primary recruitment period.
Varso said he does not see a difference between the levels of underage drinking at Greek Life parties as compared to parties hosted in YSU apartments. Greek organizations at YSU hire outside security to be proactive about such issues and avoid legal consequences, he said.
“If you are in possession of an alcoholic beverage or if you are under the influence of an alcoholic beverage while you are under 21 years old it is considered a first-degree misdemeanor,” Varso said.
Since it is a first-degree misdemeanor, it is punishable by up to 6 months in jail. However, Varso said that there are situations where the charge is reduced if the individual pleads guilty and enters an educational alcohol program.
The YSU Police often deal with underage drinking, Varso said, although it’s no more of a problem here than on other college campuses.
Another concern is excessive alcohol consumption among students. In cases where an individual has had an excessive amount of alcohol, the YSU Police are ready to respond.
“In those cases, our first thing that we do is get them medical attention. Anything else, criminal charges, anything like that, is a second thought,” Varso said.
When it comes to underage drinking Varso said he encourages safe drinking habits to individuals who do participate. Especially drinking in moderation and being aware of where your drink is at all times.