When one hears the word “hazing,” the typically first impression is that of a fraternity member with a paddle in one hand, beer in another and a young “pledge” bent over being struck by the wooden paddle. This is defiantly a case of classic hazing, however many other forms have been created and made public in the recent past. Other fields such as military, sorority, high school and athletic teams have begun to come under the same scrutiny fraternities have been for years. For someone who has never been “hazed” the issue can be quite complicated and some ignorant conclusions may be made.
Hazing has different, but yet very similar definitions from various institutions. The first thing I noticed here was that fraternities were the only institution that the American College Dictionary directly addresses. Obviously the FIPG listed above goes into more detail regarding fraternity actions and focus on those activities Hazing is defined by the FIPG (Fraternity Insurance Purchasing Group) as: “Any action taken or situation created, intentionally, whether on or off fraternity premises, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule.
Such activities may include but are not limited to the following: use of alcohol; paddling in any form; creation of excessive fatigue; physical and psychological shocks; quests, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, road trips or any other such activities carried on outside or inside of the confines of the chapter house; wearing of public apparel which is conspicuous and not normally in good taste; engaging in public stunts and buffoonery; morally degrading or humiliating games and activities; and any other activities which are not consistent with fraternal law, ritual or policy or the regulations and policies of the educational institution.
The American College Dictionary goes on to define the action of “haze” as: “1. To persecute or harass with meaningless, difficult or humiliating acts. 2. To initiate, as into a college Fraternity, by exacting humiliating performances from or playing rough practical jokes. One problem I see with the definitions above is they are very subjective. One could obviously place events such as physical assault or public humiliation such as nudity into hazing, however one could also interpret hazing as asking a “pledge” to answer the phone because it is may produce discomfort.
State legislations over the past twenty years have begun to outlaw hazing in their respective states, however many of the statues again directly address Greek hazing a fallacy I will address directly later. 42 of the 50 states currently have laws against hazing. The eight states without such laws are: Below is the State of Kansas Statute. 21-3434. Promoting or permitting hazing. (a) No social or fraternal organization shall promote or permit hazing. )
Hazing is intentionally, coercing, demanding or encouraging another person to perform as a condition of membership in a social or fraternal organization, any act which could reasonably be expected to result in great bodily harm, disfigurement or death or which is done in a manner whereby great bodily harm, disfigurement or death could be inflicted. Concerning fraternity hazing one several underlying themes nationwide are occurring. Every national headquarters has an anti-hazing policy, which it preaches to its chapters.
Many National Greek organizations have even changed the language from “pledge” to associate, citing that the very word “pledge” is a form of hazing. Several factors for the local chapters continuing to haze include: “hard to break tradition; I had to do it and so should they, they need to learn to respect us before we initiate them. ” Indeed several fallacies could be made in these arguments and we will touch on those later. In actuality a national trend is for the intensity of sorority hazing to be rising, while the extremities of fraternities have calmed down.
Proof of this can be obtained simply by speaking with older men who belonged in fraternities and what transpired not just through an “Initiation-Week” but also throughout the entire pledge semester. By extremities I mean fear for ones life, physical paddling, severe public humiliation and major physical tasks such as finding ones way back home. One possible reason for the decline or less severe initiation activities may be due to the extreme negative exposure a National and local fraternity experiences when in the spotlight.
Local and national media sources seemingly flock to the story of fraternity hazing and focus on the “victims” side of the story. Another reason for less hazing is the severe punishment a chapter may receive for a reported and proven case. The Chi Phi fraternity in Atlanta, Georgia was closed and suspended for two years, levied hefty monetary fines and sentenced to massive amounts of community service from the university.
Sorority insiders, older sorority members and those expelled from the organization explain that the sorority form of initiation and hazing is much more private, meaning within the chapter house or secluded areas, and becoming much more extreme in the ways of embarrassment and ridicule. Such activities include nudity, sexual acts and defamatory chanting. Concerning the fallacy of hazing only involving Greek organizations is one that is recently been the base of many arguments from pro-hazers. Other organizations known for hazing such high schools, athletic teams and my focus the military are in many ways “getting away” with hazing.
The very basis for boot camp and military training is essentially hazing by the various state laws and definitions. Yet, we do not read or hear of a military institution being shut down because a soldier was “discomforted” by the drill instructors actions. This further illustrates the bias shown in the Kansas and other state statute when the wording specifically targets fraternal organizations yet fails to mentions the other institutions and categories known and evolving into hazers such as the military, athletic teams, high schools and even in the job market.
The simple wording of the definition is so broad and vague nearly every facet of life could be interpreted in its context. With the pecking orders of corporations and the “all nighters” college students experience, the argument could be made that employees and students are being hazed on a daily basis, but no headlines are published, no colleges shut down, not businesses fined. This is a preview of the arguments for and against what legislations and other institutions have defined as “hazing. ” Myth #1: Hazing is a problem for fraternities and sororities primarily.
Fact: Hazing is a societal problem. Hazing incidents have been frequently documented in the military, athletic teams, marching bands, religious cults, professional schools and other types of clubs and/or, organizations. Reports of hazing activities in high schools are on the rise. Myth #2: Hazing is an effective way to teach respect and develop discipline. Fact: First of all, respect must be EARNED–not taught. Victims of hazing rarely report having respect for those who have hazed them. Just like other forms of victimization, hazing breeds mistrust, apathy and alienation.
Myth #3: If someone agrees to participate in an activity, it can’t be considered hazing. Fact: In states that have laws against hazing consent of the victim can’t be used as a defense in a civil suit. This is because even if someone agrees to participate in a potentially hazardous action it may not be true consent when considering the peer pressure and desire to belong to the group. “If you have to ask if it’s hazing, it is. If in doubt, call your advisor/coach/national office. If you won’t pick up the phone, you have your answer.
Don’t B. S. yourself. If you haze, you have low self-esteem. Possible physical injury – many people have physical weaknesses of which sometimes even they are unaware. If injury occurs, current officers, the university, and the organization can be sued and held liable. ” “Can create the attitude that pledgeship is a hardship, not an educational period, and that initiation is the end of one’s work for the organization instead of the beginning. This can create a general lack of participating and/or interest in the membership. In programs with a lack of sufficient sleep and strenuous activities designed to make the pledge less cognizant of what is really happening, the new initiate can be robbed of the true meaning and appreciation of the formal ceremony.
Also, as scholarship is supposed to have priority, these programs can in fact be very detrimental to one’s academic achievement. Failure to stop hazing will result in death… ” One may argue that the main reason National Headquarters of Greek Organizations banned hazing is due to the legislation passed in various states and a liability arises when a local chapter participates is risky initiation behaviors.
The counterpoint to the argument is the times are changing and if the principles and values published, adopted and believed by the fraternity are indeed true, then hazing is an unnecessary part of the Greek experience. One aspect I immediately see between the arguments of pro and anti-hazing are that the proponents of hazing, which are addressed later, are those that have “been through” the experience of the acts defined and subjectively interpreted as hazing. The main problem I personally have with those who speak out against hazing may not have had any real life experience being “hazed.
Are these activist trying to prevent someone else the same harmful experience they went through or are they “shooting from the hip” and simply basing their opinions and assumptions about hazing on the many media stereotypes such as the famed Animal House and horror story headlines on the extreme levels? The above “myths vs. facts” upon first glance is a cut and dry stance with all the issues clearly defined. After I took a second glance the facts were underlined with various opinions from the authors and presented in the context to his desires.
Obviously the anti-hazing sentiment most valid and strong point for hazing being immoral or unethical is that hazing is illegal and that some cases people have been killed. This is certainly a strong element that is very hard to argue against. Yet, arguments for hazing run as strong and deep as those who oppose it. Before we get into the flip side argument of hazing, from the interviews I conducted, written opinions and horror stories from the past, nearly all those questioned are in disagreement with what transpired in times when there were no laws against hazing.
Physical beatings with paddles and experiments, which claim to be trust building, but in fact have their similarities to a mild form of torture and activities that endanger lives are NOT supported by pro-hazers. As stated before the definition of hazing and its corresponding subjectivity are what complicate the pro-hazers standpoint. Today’s form of Greek hazing is radically different from that of the distant past according to various sources that have had real experience being both hazed and being the hazer.
A common theme found in the following passages and those whom I have spoken with is that the initiation phase helps build teamwork, teaches one how to be humble, respect authority and look at the experience as a life long lesson in which its tools are used on a daily basis in the real world. Let us begin the counterpoint argument with several opinions of military hazing: “Don’t you think that in some organizations, like the military, where you’re teaching people how to kill and endure the agony of bullet wounds and lost limbs, that hazing will actually make you tougher.
I remember the first layground fight I was in as a child. I got beat up because I wasn’t ready to handle the physical pain and endurance of the fight. But it effectively prepared me for the next. This is the purpose of hazing. If you cant take a little hazing, then I cannot expect you back me up in the worse scenarios of gorilla warfare. It is this warfare that makes it possible, ultimately, for you to possess the freedom even to have this web site” The opinions of fraternity members in their “defense” of hazing stems deep and sincere due to their incredible amount of investments of time and finances.
Sororities are much so the same way. Ideas such as a semester or week of hardship is nothing compared to a lifetime of memories and reflections of how the initiation process has helped prepare them for a productive life without crime and deviant behaviors. “For example, a properly conducted scavenger hunt, even if the hunt is for meaningless objects, people, etc. , teaches teamwork.
Please tell me what is so terrible about teamwork? ” “As far as requiring lower classmen or pledges to address upperclassmen or brothers/sisters by formal titles (Mr. Miss), I think you’re way off base. When the people subjected to these incidents of “hazing” enter into the workforce, they will have to address superiors, and sometimes even peers, according to a rank or title. Why is it wrong to prepare people for these “hardships”? ” “My first hell week as a sister I began to question the reason why we do things that we do. But I found out that there’s a reason for everything. The pledges are never in any real harm. They are not forced to eat or consume anything. And they are free to walk at any time.
It teaches them how to work as a team. It teaches them so much. I can’t put it into words. Well, my point is that hazing has a purpose in every facet of life today. It is an important way to earn respect. The military I believe has been the biggest offender, not Greeks. ” “The definition of hazing includes: “creation of excessive fatigue”. I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that University creates excessive fatigue. In light of this, I would like to move to ban post secondary education. It creates excessive fatigue.
On a side note, road trips are a mandatory part of University life as well. And as to the comment that “having power and control over others” can be considered hazing, I’m wondering if you have an employer. If so, if you decided not to perform the tasks up to standard for your employer, would you be fired? My guess is yes. While extreme hazing (anal rape with the hook end of a field hockey stick or something like that) should be forbidden, regular hazing, (which seems to have been blown extremely out of proportion) should be used by institutions to create a sense of unity.
Of my own personal views it is difficult to give a definite yes or no in support of hazing. Being the president of a fraternity my insights are from an experienced based point of view. I do see the points and fallacies in both arguments. From a utilitarian point of view, the actual act of hazing is legitimate due to the majority of a chapter receiving the “pleasers” of hazing the pledges. However, the military is basically an anti –utilitarian process by one person such as a drill instructor inflicting displeasure to the majority of people.
One fallacy from the anti-hazing viewpoint is that assumptions may be being made without the proper experience to back them up. Another is that hazing has been training our soldiers. 85% of the presidents of the United States have been Greek, with most of them being in a time when hazing was legal. With those facts it is difficult to object to hazing. When someone says “I am pro-hazing” it has a negative context that they approve of the ancient methods and brandings, murders and binge drinking.
A similar effect when someone says they are pro-choice it has the effect they are not religious and approve of murder. The bottom line for me is that hazing in its older forms is defiantly outdated and NOT necessary in today’s society and is indeed unethical. However, I am fully in support of activities that teach teamwork, a true sense of brotherhood and education about the chapter or institution they are about to join and prepares them for the real world experience after college.