Essay written by Kevin StigHazing (subjecting newcomers to abusive or humiliating tricks and ridicule) has always been seen as a secretive campus activity when it comes to fraternities and pledging. As a result, Dr. Mark Taff resorted in his article that, “..a series of 168 cases of injuries and deaths related to fraternity hazing activities..
.occurred in the United States between 1923 and 1982″ (2113). Young college men are being hospitalized and even worse, dying, just for a couple of friends that give them a sense of belonging. The major causes of hazing are the students’ wanting a sense of belonging in a big college campus, the college’s infrequent knowledge of what occurs in fraternities, and the unwillingness of fraternities to change tradition. Since hazing has been around for more than a century, one cannot expect the practice of hazing to stop all together. It will probably take years before hazing perishes from the fraternity scene. Nevertheless, until an end is put to hazing, solutions can be used to make hazing less common, until it no longer exists. These solutions that may be able to put an eventual stop to hazing, in the long run, are better education about fraternity hazing, stricter laws to prevent hazing from occurring, and more intervention from college administrators.
Stories of hazing incidents are all too common in the news media today. It would not be out of the ordinary, upon opening the newspaper, to read the testimony of some fraternity pledges “‘We were taken to a deserted park and blindfolded…We sat on our knees for an hour. Then they began slapping us on the back of our necks, real hard, and then they started pouring hot wax down our back'” (Milloy CL). Also, an article stating that “..
.A sophomore at Alfred University in New York was locked in a car trunk with two others and told to drink a bottle of Jack Daniels, wine and a six-pack of beer, one wintry night in 1978. He died of alcohol poisoning and exposure” (O’Connor 32). Fraternities are getting away with hazing practices, every single day. If a stranger did this to a civilian, they would automatically be arrested and imprisoned. The humiliations of hazing are said to build bonds between pledges and fraternity brothers.
According to fraternity beliefs, the theory goes, if you and a couple of friends go through fraternity initiations, drinking excessive amounts of beer and being beaten by fraternity members etc., and only you and your friends go through it, then this gives you all something in common. An example of a hazing victim is typically a white male 19 to 20 years of age, who is experiencing some types of injuries between the months of February and April or September and October (the pledging seasons). Men are experiencing injuries including those caused by “blunt force (beatings, paddling, motor vehicle crashes, pedestrian accidents, and falls from height), cold exposure, heat exhaustion, gunshot, asphyxia, electrocution, cannon and beer-keg explosions,..
.” (Taff 2113), just to name a few. These supposedly bring the fraternity “together.” Hazing also occurs in both sororities and black fraternities (which are seen differently from regular fraternities), but it is not as severe in sororities as it is in fraternities.
One cause of hazing is that fraternity members do not want to change tradition. Hazing has been a part of fraternity initiations ever since fraternities were founded. Hazing was used to test the pledges that wanted to join the fraternity, to make sure that the pledge was “fraternity material.” According to one pledge, fraternity members have “‘a feeling that if I went through it, you should too…So as long as there are people in the fraternity who were beaten, they feel they have a right to beat you'” (Milloy C10).
If fraternity members think this way then how can hazing be prevented so that innocent men do not die just for friends and a “feeling of belonging.” A second cause of hazing is that since college campuses are so big in population, men believe that in order to make friends and “fit in,” they have to subject themselves to ridicule and torture by joining a fraternity. Not many men would do this for a group of friends, but it is happening every semester in college campuses today. Not only are college men being hospitalized but many are putting their lives on the line, and even dying, just so they can be considered a “brother” in a fraternity. Nevertheless, it is not the pledge’s fault, in getting himself into this type of situation.
A third cause of hazing is that the fraternities know exactly what they are doing and they know what they can get away with most of it, since college administrators are not doing anything to prevent hazing. The events that happen in the fraternity world are largely secretive, some even go “underground,” just so they do not get caught. This should tell college administrators that the fraternities are trying to hide something, and that something is illegal and wrongful.
Many fraternities require their members to take a vow of secrecy and “to expose criminal behavior by a frat brother, for example, is referred to within the fraternity as ‘catting’ an offense punishable by even more severe beatings” (Milloy C1). Universities are blind when it comes to fraternity hazing. As stated in the book, “Broken Pledges,” by Eileen Steven, “when administrators have a limited definition of hazing, deaths and injuries will continue to go unrecorded..
.” (Nuwer 27).