Shining a light

Among student’s efforts to help others is a survey to explore hazing at UF

By Brittany Valencic

As a graduate student, Brittany Schambow, M.S., volunteered much of her time to improving the health of fellow University of Florida students and the community.

She worked with the Inclusive Fitness and Unified Sports program at UF, which aims to help students with physical and intellectual challenges, and served as a health education and behavior academic adviser graduate assistant.

Schambow, 28, from Waukesha, Wisconsin, also is a national member of Eta Sigma Gamma, a national health education organization that strengthened her passion to help others. She was the organization’s research coordinator and spent two years leading the group’s project to explore hazing perceptions among sport club athletes at UF.

All of her efforts earned her the 2016 Gareth Kerr Memorial Scholarship Award from the UF Student Health Care Center. The scholarship recognizes students who consistently support campus and community health programs and promote an issue or cause related to health and wellness. The scholarship is based on nominations by UF faculty, staff and students.

“This is a prestigious award and to be nominated by faculty, staff, and students is an honor in itself, but to be chosen to represent this group of people and receive this award on behalf of Gareth, it just tugged at my heart,” said Schambow.

Much of Schambow’s focus was on the hazing survey project, which she began working on in 2014. Her group developed a survey that asked members of UF sport club teams if they had ever been hazed, saw other athletes being hazed or if they hazed (individually or with others) other sport club athletes.

“Looking at the literature, there were not a lot of questionnaires targeting this group,” she said. “From the ground up, we built our own survey instrument, conducted literature reviews, an expert panel review and pilot studies, which had positive response rates.”

The research team ran studies in 2016, with first 380 sport club members, then 844 UF students and a final study with more than 2,500 sport club members. The data set is under review and will be analyzed and results reported later this year. Pending valid and reliable results, the survey has the potential to be distributed among students throughout the UF campus and beyond.

“If we can generate results among this target population, other colleges and universities throughout the United States could use this instrument, or something similar, to hopefully impact their students as well,” she said.

Schambow said the group was hoping for a 10 percent response rate, and they got more than 17 percent. And respondents reported hazing incidents in all three categories.

The survey results, which will be presented to the UF Anti-Hazing Coalition, could lead to a broader survey of other campus groups such as fraternities and sororities. It could also spark new strategies and interventions to reduce negative behaviors, Schambow said.
Schambow, who now works at UF as an academic adviser, maintains her affiliation with the study.

“I’ve been involved with a lot of things here at UF that I take pride in, and not that any projects are less important than others, but I’ve been committed to this research on a more personal level,” she said.” “It’s a new interest of mine that I have discovered.”

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