Any older guy will tell you about the hazing adventures and horrors of his day. It’s seen as a rite of passage for many students in colleges, military organizations, and even secondary schools. Although the media only turned its attention toward the practice recently, reported incidents that left students paralyzed or dead easily go back to the 1970’s.
We all know what to expect when we pledge. We’ll grit our teeth and endure degrading tasks, sexual abuse, alcohol poisoning, pain, scars, dehydration or even broken bones to be accepted. If we manage to succeed, we’ll probably get to watch the next set of pledges go through the same torture. The chances are high that we’ll think of better ideas or make something we barely managed ourselves even more precarious though. Maybe that’s the reason hazing has gotten so out of control.
We’ve all heard about the reasons for such practices. Strengthening bonds, getting rid of the weak, in keeping with tradition and instilling discipline are but a few perceived to be benefits for the fraternity. For the individual being hazed, he is expected to have a good sense of accomplishment, achieve humility, have the ability to endure more difficulties, learn respect for superiors and have pride and courage to face the future, among others. But how much of these are really passed on?
In many of these fraternities, these risks of severe physical injury and death still have not resulted in the total elimination of hazing. This is not to mention the psychological damage that the act has on both the hazer and the one being hazed. It is not unheard of that some experience a rush when inflicting pain and injury on another. It may be momentary but the excitement still is there. The trauma inflicted on the neophyte may serve as accomplishment in some form, but it doesn’t serve as a true benefit to anyone but those seeking revenge for the experience they previously endured. Maintaining a tradition based on humility and pain is more of what hazing is about.
In spite of hazing being banned in most campuses and actually illegal in at least 44 states, several fraternities still engage in hazing. We all know that alcohol impairs good judgment in a person and yet hazing occurs under the influence of alcohol in many of these incidents. And even in the seemingly non-harmful hazing acts that deal with humiliation, those inflicting the psychological damage on their victims don’t even know it. Cuts and bruises, broken bones, death, psychological trauma, not to mention violating state and school laws the true results of hazing. The supposed unity and camaraderie only exists among the group dealing out the pain and humiliation. The supposed discipline that hazers speak of is truly a pledge’s fear or his need for group acceptance. The proposed benefits by the act of hazing are really just illusions.