Travis Apgar, who as a college student experienced the trauma of hazing first-hand, will offer a fresh look at the banned practice from the perspective of a survivor, on Wednesday, March 3, at SUNY Cortland.
Apgar, currently the assistant vice president for student life and dean of students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, located in Troy, N.Y., will begin his talk titled “Hazing: The Fallout” at 7:30 p.m.
Presented as part of SUNY Cortland’s Wellness Wednesday series, the discussion is free and open to the public. The presentation will take place via Webex for the sake of campus safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants must register on the web in order to attend.The meeting ID is 815 2769 6882 and the password is SUNY.
Considered an authority on hazing prevention, Apgar is a member of the board of directors for HazingPrevention.Org. He has contributed to the National Hazing Prevention Week Resource Guide, assisted with the development of the NCAA Hazing Prevention Handbook, appeared in “Haze,” a documentary made available by the Gordie Center, and served as a guest on PBS NewsHour and HuffPost Live.
Apgar, who holds advanced degrees in psychology and education administration and has worked in higher education for almost two decades, will discuss hazing from the perspective of a survivor with a background that contributed to the severity of the impact.
His emotional and powerful story aims to give students a wake-up call about the hidden dangers of hazing. Drawing from his personal and professional experience, he seeks to help students recognize that human lives and well-being come first and that the actions of hazing are not only illegal and wrong, but they go against everything upon which extracurricular groups were founded.
“Most students have some idea of what hazing may be, but many do not fully understand what constitutes hazing,” said Apgar, whose positions in higher education have encompassed residence life, student activities, first-year student programs, Greek life and judicial affairs.
“By not knowing, they may agree to be involved in a hazing activity that they may not have if they better understood the definition and policies. I also strongly believe people should be aware of all policies, rules and expectations, so they are free to make educated decisions about their behaviors.”
As a first-generation college student, student-athlete and prospective fraternity member, Apgar did not know what to expect when he walked on campus. He anticipated being challenged to work at fitting in and to struggle in some ways. He certainly never looked for the intense hazing he endured during his first year on campus to challenge his physical and mental well-being. His tormentors had no idea of the “hidden harm” they were worsening with their seemingly harmless fun.
Whether it is a fraternity, student band, religious organization, rugby club or intercollegiate sport team, these groups were created out of a desire to enhance an individual’s life, not to hurt or destroy it, Apgar asserts.
“I believe I have a responsibility to get involved in the fight against hazing, and it is my goal to help provide resources to professionals and students that can help get the job done,” he said.
Apgar has received national recognition as an outstanding student affairs professional. An educator, writer and consultant, he has been a featured speaker on college campuses and at conferences across the country, working with thousands of students, faculty, administrators and coaches with the goal of ending hazing.
“Travis was last here in 2011, his presentation was very powerful and you could hear a pin drop,” said organizer Sandra Wohlleber, associate director for campus activities and Greek Affairs. “I have always wanted to ‘bring him back’ and now is the time.”
The talk replaces the “REEL Big Bullies” event with Brian Johnson.
The event is supported by the Campus Artists and Lecture Series and is being co-sponsored by Athletics, the President’s Office, Recreational Sports, Student Conduct, the Title IX Office, and University Police.
For more information, contact Sandra Wohlleber at 607-753-5769.