“I was blindfolded, told to eat a goldfish, and left in the middle of nowhere,” one girl said. “We saran-wrapped girls together and made them ride in the back of a pickup truck while singing the Backstreet Boys. At the stoplights they had to take shots. It was fun!” said another.
“I was told to cut class and went to somebody’s house. Left blindfolded in a room with people I don’t know (members), who hit me with the belt 10 times. Went home with purple legs. Couldn’t walk straight for days,” a male said.
These were some of the responses to Elvis Duran of Q102’s following question on Oct. 1: “Tell us about your sorority initiation stories. What gross, crazy, stupid things did you have to do get into a sorority? Dish it!” Referring to hazing, Duran received many comments on Facebook that either condemned hazing or accepted it because “it happens.” Hazing does exist and the consequences can be severe but there are also fun alternative ways to have a great experience in an organization.
One woman said: “Good lord people. I’ve never been in a sorority, but the hazing comes with the tradition. My husband is a submariner in the Navy and they have their own traditions that I think are absurd, but they are done regardless, and my husband wouldn’t have [had] it any other way. [Complaining] about the hazing wont make it stop- as long as no one is ever hurt then its not that big of a deal.”
According to Pennsylvania Law, stated on stophazing.org, the definition of hazing is “Any action or situation which recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student or which willfully destroys or removes public or private property for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in, any organization operating under the sanction of or recognized as an organization by an institution of higher education.” Hazing does not stop with Greek Life.
So why does hazing happen? A fraternity or sorority is also supposed to be about bonding and the importance of brotherhood or sisterhood. Instead of making new members do harmful things to themselves, why not have craft nights and movie nights so that the sisters and new members can all get to know each other a lot better before initiation? Impress upon girls the important bond of sisterhood, and for guys, the importance of being a brother. Sisterhood and brotherhood are not about stuffing people like sardines into a small room and making them line up or taking them to the middle of nowhere and forcing them to trudge home alone.
Unfortunately, hazing happens outside of the fraternity and sorority scene. A woman commented about her husband’s time in the Navy and said that the Navy, along with the majority of the Armed Forces, holds ritual hazing activities in order to train officers and see what they are made of. A girl in ROTC said, “Army ROTC Frat: we were swung into a stinky algae pond at one in the morning, then had to ride home in the back of a pick up truck in 17 degree weather. We also had to carry bags filled with the candy that the brothers liked, so if they saw us on campus, they’d yell at us to give them the bag and they’d pick what they wanted. It only got much worse from there…”
One of the pro-hazing comments was the one about making the girls take shots at stoplights and saying that “it was fun.” The peer pressure involved in hazing makes the feeling of belonging overcomes common sense.
The consequences of hazing involve chapters shut down on some campuses or put on probation. Probation is the more serious punishment because a chapter technically can still exist but they cannot do anything on campus.
According to stophazing.org, states have their own laws on hazing. Pennsylvania gives a complete definition and also gives the following consequence: ” Any person who causes or participates in hazing commits a misdemeanor of the third degree.” The website also stated that transcripts may be withheld even if a student wishes to transfer away from the school where hazing took place. Diplomas are withheld as well.
So the next time people want to haze just put it out of their minds. Want to make the pledges wash the executive board’s cars? Make it a chapter event to raise money and have a car wash. “Clean” fun involves the entire group, allowing for better bonding between members and a decrease in hazing.
Margaret Weaver is a third-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at MW678077@wcupa.edu.