Greek Life Hazing: Why It Needs To Be Prevented And Discussed
Although there are many benefits to Greek life, countless alums from fraternities and sororities hold high professional positions. It would be naive to ignore Greek life hazing as a myth. While many universities and National headquarters are taking zero-tolerance policies and actions against Greek life hazing, internal values and characteristics need to be addressed for a permanent change to occur.
What Is Considered Hazing
Statistically speaking, some Greek life members aren’t even fully aware they have been involved in a hazing incident. Media, both in regards to the news stories and fictional movies, portray Greek life hazing as an obscene action you can’t imagine a ‘sane’ human participating in. But the hazing definition and spectrum include all those listed below, according to Hazing prevention.org.
- Forced activities for new recruits to ‘prove’ their worth to join
- Forced or required consumption of alcohol
- The requirement to eat spicy foods, other substances
- The requirement to endure hardships such as staying awake, menial tasks, physical labor, running while blindfolded, etc.
- The humiliation of new or potential members
- Isolation of new or potential members
- Beatings, paddling, or other physical acts against new or potential members
- Requirements for new or potential members to do things established members are not required to do
- Illegal activities such as the requirement to steal local items as part of a scavenger hunt
Even though most incidents of Greek life hazing conjure images of physical assault or the copious amount of alcohol consumption. Emotional hazing, which is most common among sororities, still falls under this category. Experts categorize emotional hazing as verbal harassment or rituals such as publicly announcing someone’s weight or marking fat on bodies in marker.
Any organization that engages in hazing needs to be reported and not tolerated by members of any level.
Real Statistics On Hazing
Although there aren’t extensive research statistics on hazing since 2008, the study conducted by researchers at the University of Main found 73% of fraternity or sorority members have experienced hazing. Author Hank Nuwer, an author, specializing in hazing, reports 16 of the 30 deaths related to hazing in the last five years involved alcohol.
These numbers aren’t to dissuade individuals from joining these organizations. In fact, hazing occurs in other organizations ranging from sports teams to honor societies. It’s simply a way of acknowledging hazing is still a problem that needs to be addressed. Inherently, these organizations aren’t bad. For many, their values and morals don’t align with hazing rituals. So, this is a cultural issue that needs healing.
Maxwell of Hazing Prevention sees, “Hazing is a societal problem.” Maxwell describes the cultural uprise desensitisation to hazing as a connection to reality TV where “shows [force] people to do something crazy to win a prize. I am sensing some of the hazing happening today is for entertainment purposes.’
NBC News reported in 2017 that all but six states in the U.S. have anti-hazing laws and 10 states have laws that could potentially result in a felony. This is where it’s a cultural question of the consequences of a tradition. Young men and women join these organizations to advance their lives, not bring it to tragically short and permanently damaging changes in the future. State legislature proves they will not be lenient on Greek life hazing or any hazing conducted in their region.
Report Even ‘lesser’ Forms Of Hazing
Most of the Greek life hazing that makes mainstream media are extreme often results in serious injury and death. However, even ‘lesser’ forms of Greek life hazing should not go unreported and be investigated by the university.
Gentry McCreary, a consultant for the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, an education law firm and consulting group, who has investigated and researched hazing during his career in higher education, said, “universities should be diligent about responding to all reports of hazing, no matter how severe.”
Instilling zero-tolerance, no matter how “little” the incident may be, shows organizations such as Greek life they need to fully embody inclusion, trusty, and safety within their walls. It will greatly reduce the chances of Greek life hazing occurring in the first place or reaching the tragic levels of death or injury.
Proposal To End Pledging Process
Traditionally hazing stems from a separation of power and proving superiority over one group based on age, rank, or status. However, the continuous iteration from greek life organizations is one of inclusion and support. The continued practice of hazing is in direct contradiction to these values.
In Greek life, the separation of power comes from the pledging process still used by many organizations. Mcreary believes ending the pledging process would “be a drastic change that would actually be well-designed to address the issue.”
Allowing new members to be initiated into the organization two or three days after receiving a bid would eliminate the widow older members may use to have underclassman ‘prove themselves.’ This helps in reducing the risk of Greek life hazing.
It’s Not An Act Of Bonding
If you join a group promising to have your back and support you, they shouldn’t tear you down or cause you physical harm first. That’s not a way to prove yourself or instill self-worth.
- Does participation in this activity violate my values or those of this organization?
- Is this causing emotional or physical distress or stress to myself or to others?
Although legislation has enacted bills and consequences for hazing, students need to be the ones to step up and make the change. Culturally they need to value others and underclassman as equal and valuable additions to the organization. Many Greek life organizations around the country live this mindset actively within their chapter. That’s how they should be run, and if they aren’t, they are defacing the true values and benefits of Greek life.
It needs to change within student bodies first. Many school supervisors fear harsh policies on campus will only lead to underground hazing rituals that are less likely to be regulated by campus officials.
Please share your positive experiences with Greek life or not so positive experiences. All sides of the matter should be discussed.
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