Your Silence is Deafening

By adviser Apr 16, 2021
Photo: Anastasia Lowenthal via Facebook
Photo: Anastasia Lowenthal via Facebook

In November of 2012 I co-wrote an article for The Argus addressing issues of hazing on Illinois Wesleyan’s campus. Over two dozen sources were interviewed, eight of whom were willing to have their experiences anonymously quoted. They spoke of horrific instances of hazing, bullying and downright torture, and discussed their worries of being harassed or ostracized for speaking out about what had happened.

What I had naively hoped in publishing that story was that the administration would become aware of the abuses occurring on Illinois Wesleyan’s campus and would do something to hold the students who were participating in it accountable. I had hoped they would have done their jobs to ensure the protection and safety of future students in Greek organizations.

   When The Argus interviewed Dean of Students Dr. Karla Carney-Hall in 2012, she said that “Hazing can refer to a wide variety of things” – some instances were “little h hazing” versus more serious instances, which she’d classified as “big H Hazing.”

Hazing – which is by definition humiliating, demeaning and often dangerous – should always come with a capital H. It should never be categorized and compartmentalized to the point of utter dismissal. Doing your best to remain silent on an issue doesn’t make it go away; it creates a breeding ground for history to repeat itself. And, sure enough, it did.

On Saturday, April 10 an Illinois Wesleyan student’s forehead was carved up by his fraternity ‘brother(s)’ and now he may be scarred for the rest of his life. 

Is this H big enough?

In Dr. Carney-Hall’s response to last Saturday’s event, she aptly mentioned the responsibility of leaders and bystanders to intervene and report instances of hazing. While it is important for students to report hazing if they are a witness or a victim, it is even more important that the administration are not bystanders – that they take all hazing seriously and foster a culture of zero tolerance at IWU.

We’re not talking about a one-day anti-hazing seminar hosted in Hansen Student Center or ‘bystander training’ for Greek students. We’re not talking about temporary suspension while you investigate. We’re not talking about silencing students and waiting for the smoke to clear. 

Many changes have been made at Illinois Wesleyan in the last year with the claim that the university has done so in order to “best serve the students of today and tomorrow.” Difficult decisions were made and traditions that were once fundamental to the university have been put to rest. As you move forward into your new future, hazing is without question another of Wesleyan’s traditions that needs to be left behind.

When these students leave your campus, it will be up to the administration to provide a better future for the students who come next. Your silence thus far has been deafening. It’s time that you begin the real work of ending hazing at IWU for good.


-Anastasia Lowenthal, ‘16

By adviser

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