Dissent key to ending hazing
A study released this week by The Associated Press shows hazing is prevalent on American campuses. It also seems the Earth is round and is not the center of the universe. Such an obvious conclusion to a study could have been determined without the in-depth analysis of responses taken during The National Study of Student Hazing.
Stophazing.org defines hazing as any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional or physical harm, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.
The problem with hazing is those who choose to walk away from the group at the onset of any of the hazing scenarios do not get to continue to belong in said group. It is endured and kept quiet so those who suffer hazing can fit in with those who are doing the hazing. The justification in these close-knit circles is older members went through such treatment, so each incoming member should see his or her participation in hazing as a continuation of a long tradition.
While this may not be surprising to those who have pledged Greek organizations or played collegiate sports, what does come as a shock is that fraternities, sororities and football teams are not alone in doling out hazing. Club sport teams, performing arts organizations and even academic clubs have members who reported in the study as being victims of hazing.
Someone is terrorizing a badminton player right now. There is a ballerina who is not looking forward to practice tonight for fear of what will be done to her by fellow dancers. A student with a 4.0 grade-point average is thinking of quitting the honor society because of some humiliation he may have to endure at the next meeting.
These examples are not intended to be comical; rather, they are indicative of the far-reaching effects of the ill-treatment some members of university organizations feel is their right to inflict upon incoming members.
If one of your friends forced you to drink a bottle of whiskey and then chase it with a case of beer, would he remain your friend much longer? Yet, when college students choose to gain membership in a club or sports team, they are often put into this position – and most go through with the hazing simply because the alternative is to find a new group of people to hang out with.
This might not be so bad, considering the number of alcohol-related hazing incidents that pop up on university campuses each year.
What the study ought to have included, or at least tried to quantify, was the number of students who choose not to shotgun a bottle of vodka and opt to forgo membership in lieu of his or her health. Students do not have to be subjected to such treatment. Such events do not transpire in the bulk of the working world. Your potential boss will not ask you to guzzle a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor and hurl insults while you try to type 90 words a minute.
There are many aspects of college life meant to prepare you for your future. Hazing – with all its physiological and psychological damage – has no place in higher education.
The only way its use will be eradicated is if those students in organizations decide humiliation does not lead to acceptance. It only opens the door for further instances of hazing to take place. If those students wishing to gain entrance to a club would walk away from the group, dwindling numbers could force older members to rethink employing hazing as a facet of membership.
Lopez, a post-baccalaureate English student, can be reached via [email protected]