Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hazing Is Perverse

You are out camping with your family and you hear a growl. It is a bear. What do you do? Run away? Grab something to use as a weapon? Play dead? Fight back?

Don’t run. When you run, the bear thinks you’re prey and will continue chasing you, so stand your ground. And don’t think you can out run a bear. Bears are fast. They can reach speeds of 30 mph. Unless you’re an Olympic sprinter, don’t bother running.

Play dead. Bears will stop attacking when they feel there’s no longer a threat. If they think you’re dead, they won’t think you’re threatening. Once the bear is done tossing you around and leaves, continue to play dead. Bears are known for waiting around to see if their victim will get back up.

Fight back. If a bear thinks you are food and continues biting after you have taken a defensive posture fight back as best you can. If the black bear actually attacks, fight back. Use anything and everything as a weapon - rocks, sticks, fists, and your teeth. Aim your blows on the bear’s face - particularly the eyes and snout. When a bear sees that their victim is willing to fight to the death, they’ll usually just give up.

I am suggesting the same attitude in regards to how to deal with Hazing.

Fraternities cannot run away from the resurgence of hazing. To pretend that hazing is an isolated event which occurs only in extreme and unusual circumstances is dangerous. The recent death of a FAMU band member spotlights that hazing is still prevalent. Hazing is a violent tradition enforced by older members who want to “test” an incoming member’s dedication, desire, or “heart” to join the group. Since the act of hazing is no longer sanctioned by fraternities it has now gone “underground” and occurs out of view of college administrators or fraternal officers. “The reason hazing is so pervasive and so hard to stop is that it’s clandestine,” according to Dave Westol, an Indiana-based consultant for national fraternities and sororities. “It’s done at night. It’s done on campus. It’s done off-campus. There’s a code of secrecy that goes along with it.”[1] Many students agree to be hazed because they believe they must live up to a challenge.

Fraternity members can’t play dead. Hazing is illegal and as such creates a surge of lawsuits whenever it is uncovered. Earlier this year, a family of a hazing victim at Cornell University sued for $25 million after their son died in an incident. Insurance may cover the Fraternity’s legal exposure, however insurance premiums cost money, divert money away from the Fraternity’s programs, and hampers the Fraternity’s mission. There is always a victim when there is hazing and protecting the individual from physical or psychological harm is a responsibility the fraternity members cannot delegate to insurance companies or morally evade.

Fraternities must face the issue and fight back. Hazing is bullying. It is a rogue member who believes that hazing will prevent members from joining who are not worthy of membership. The argument that hazing is the best test to determine if a potential member will uphold Fraternity standards is outdated. Hazing can not determine who will remain active over their entire lifetime. Hazing can not identify leadership. Hazing can only test how much pain or punishment a person can inflict on another human being. Members who haze are sadists.

Members who haze recklessly endanger the Fraternity’s reputation and treasury. Members who haze are outside of the mainstream of the membership - they are usually non-financial and are not active members in good standing. Members who haze are morally and intellectually corrupt.

Organizations must and should immediately expel members who haze. Fraternal societies should promulgate the view that the act of hazing is the most dangerous, anti-social, anti-fraternal act a member can perform. Hazing does not improve the intake process. A potential member’s worth is best measured by his commitment to community service, his excellent study habits, and his academic record of achievement.

Members should support expulsion as the best method to change the culture of the “wink-nod” regarding hazing and acknowledge how perverse the act of hazing is now and in the future.

[1]

Read more on Legislative news and anti-hazing law:

Statement on Hazing:

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