With 55 percent of college students involved in extracurricular organizations experiencing hazing, according to HazingPrevention.org, the issue is inarguably a serious one.
Hazing is among the most notable forms of harassment on a college campus. Its form can vary, being psychological, physical or otherwise exploitative, making it hazardous for students. Why do some student organziations, from fraternities and sororities to athletic teams and clubs, rely on hazing in order to initiate new members into their organization?
There are many reasons why I assume students choose to engage in hazing. Members may feel greater identification with their organization if the initiation process is difficult. It can force a pledge class to create a strong bond in a short period of time and it eliminates the people who don’t take the process seriously enough for the leadership’s liking.
However, hazing isn’t the answer for those wishing to create unity. I was once in a sorority that didn’t practice hazing. It was in our bylaws to never haze a pledge, no matter what the circumstances were. We still had a strong bond. Nobody was dropped off in the middle of the woods blindfolded or forced to binge-drink to gain admission.
Just a few weeks ago, the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon announced that they will ban the initiation process for its pledges after at least 10 SAE members have died in hazing, alcohol or drug incidents at SAE events since 2006, according to Time magazine.
The article also mentioned that many of the victims were freshmen pledges, who are considered the most vulnerable to peer pressure in their first year at college.
There are many ways members of an organizations can forge a close bond without hazing. Go camping for three days without any phones or laptops; plan more activities together and get to know one another, share your deepest secrets. It’s better than putting your own life at risk.
Freshman year should be the time to educate students on hazing.
As a part of VCU’s curriculum, there should be a mandatory class that educates students on the impact hazing can have on students. One day one of those students will become the president of an organization and they will have to make the decision on whether they should haze.
Before engaging in an act that’s potentially harmful, ask yourself if you’re willing to give up your life in order to be initiated in a fraternity or a sorority. Keep in mind, this is an organization that will only be relevant for about four years of your life.