Imagine how you would feel sending your child off to college, and then getting a call one day that they had passed away from an incident of hazing gone wrong. Every year, college students die as a result of hazing. There have been many stories over the past couple of years where we hear about college students dying all over the United States, all because they simply wanted to make new friends and get involved at their school. Men and women join fraternities and sororities to expand their horizons and meet new people, not to get forced to do dangerous activities.
Many people think that it would be easy to say no, but when in the situation, they feel the pressure to do what is asked in order to “fit in.” These incidents that take the lives of innocent college students are extremely unacceptable and unforgivable; a significant change needs to happen so that no more lives are lost.
Many people are aware of the devastating death, in 2017, of Tim Piazza. Piazza was a 19-year-old student at Penn State University, pledging a fraternity. Time.com says that, “he had been forced to drink a toxic amount of alcohol in an alleged hazing ritual known as, ‘the gauntlet,’ then tumbled headfirst down a flight of stairs.” I will not give every detail of the horrifying activities Piazza was forced to do, but this should be enough to convince you that these rituals and traditions are simply not worth the risk.
Piazza’s family is now suffering and they are fighting for changes to be made. Hank Nuwer, on Time.com, reported that there have been 33 documented hazing deaths in the past decade nationwide; these are deaths that involved fraternities, and it is likely that there are many more that involve sports teams or other college organizations. According to thebestschools.org, Elizabeth Allan and Mary Madden found that “55% of college students involved in clubs, teams and organizations are hazed.”
If you are wondering why you keep hearing these tragic stories, it is because the Greek Life industry can control it, but chooses not to. After the tragic death of 19-year-old Piazza, Penn State’s vice president told the newspaper, “I can’t imagine a fraternity-free Penn State.” Penn State is not the only university that has defended the fraternity system, many other colleges have done the same. Unfortunately, it is not only Greek life that defends this cause. College students play the biggest factor when it comes to hazing and it will not stop until they have more structure, education and rules regarding Greek life activities.
Fortunately, there have not been any deaths at our school, West Chester University, but there have been other incidents within Greek Life. These incidents have occasionally led to fraternities and sororities being placed on probation or even being kicked off of campus. The way this issue can be stopped is by first, encouraging men and women to be aware when participating in pledging activities and second, encourage men and women to stand up for what is right; if a pledge feels something makes them uncomfortable, they should speak up. I feel that it would be beneficial for all sororities and fraternities to be required to participate in educational activities regarding hazing prevention. Universities and Greek life all over the United States need to come together to make a change. Once this happens, students will begin to be more cautious and level headed when it comes to welcoming in new members to their organizations.
Dana Silverman is a third-year communications studies major with minors in media and culture and international business. DS883501@wcupa.edu