An important health and safety message from Vice President Lombardi

Dear Campus Community,

The health and safety of Cornell students is fundamental to the educational mission of our university. I write to ask for your help in addressing a recognized serious risk to our students’ health, safety and well-being: hazing.

This past year, the nation was jarred by the hazing deaths of four young men who were joining fraternities on other campuses. These new members were subjected to lethal amounts of alcohol or physical abuse. Cornell is not immune: In 2011, one of our students died from alcohol poisoning in a fraternity hazing incident.

Hazing is not just a fraternity and sorority problem. It also occurs in athletic teams, pre-professional organizations, performing arts groups, and other types of clubs and organizations.

Hazing is not an innocent rite of passage, nor is it necessary to perpetuate “legacy” behavior that may have been done in the past. Traditions, rituals and initiations that involve alcohol, verbal abuse, sleep deprivation or degrading activities are harmful, dangerous and violate our hazing policy. Furthermore, they are unnecessary in order to effectively build community or professional development.

Secrecy perpetuates hazing, and shining a light on it is critical to prevention. Among Cornell’s many efforts to combat hazing, I would point specifically to our hazing prevention website, To enhance public awareness and accountability, this site displays all hazing violations and also includes our policy and an online mechanism for submitting confidential reports. If you are a member or leader of an organization and would like to receive additional information about how to prevent hazing, please be sure to let us know.

Many students are currently in the process of joining pre-professional organizations and social fraternities or sororities, organizations that provide many benefits to members. Despite education, warnings and sanctions, I am always concerned that some chapters may continue to employ hazing as the price of admission. This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Any organization at Cornell found responsible for hazing will be held accountable in the strongest possible terms.

If you suspect that any student has experienced hazing in any group, team or organization, please let us know by submitting a confidential report through our hazing website. Anonymous reports are very difficult to investigate, so be sure to provide us with as much information as possible and your contact information so we can follow up with you as needed.

Our ability to intervene and stop hazing depends on all of us detecting it and helping to take action. Thank you for partnering with us to protect the health and safety of all students.


Ryan Lombardi
Vice President for Student & Campus Life