Rutgers Reminds Us: Why Do We Haze?

Photo and girls involved totally unrelated to story.

What is the meaning of a sorority exactly?

As an outsider, a self proclaimed anti-sorostitute, I’ve never really understood the purpose.  It’s a “special bond” they tell me.  A “sisterhood” they say.  Here is what I know:  I have a sister, and I have never struck her with a paddle 201 times in one week.  She has never been at the hospital with blood clots and welts on her ass that somehow symbolize our “loyalty” to each other.  I have not forced her to endure this pain to prove to me that she is worthy of being my sister.

Unfortunately, an anonymous Sigma Gamma Rho pledge at Rutgers University cannot say the same.  When she began to pledge the sorority, she was told that they do not condone hazing.  It took her one whole week, until she couldn’t even sit down, to finally go to the hospital and turn in the girls who had been beating her endlessly during the duration of her “non-hazing.”  Six girls were arrested and charged with aggravated hazing.

We are all thinking the same thing: how could these girls do this to her and the other pledges? It is cruel, evil, and outrageous.  But here is the bigger question: how could the pledges allow this happen to themselves? Joining a sorority is an elective activity.  No one forced these girls to pledge.  It was their choice.  Even though they were told that hazing was not condoned, why didn’t they opt to leave once they saw a paddle?  And even if they were too afraid to leave, why the hell did they go back for day two, three, four, etc? 

I understand the feeling of wanting to belong to a group, of having instant friends, and wanting to be a part of something.  However, if I were in a situation where girls were going to physically harm me in order for me to be a part of this group, my response would most likely be “you’re out of your f**king mind.”  I’d be out of that room so fast and the door would not hit my untouched ass on the way out.  The concept is really bizarre to me.  They allow themselves to be hazed, beaten, humiliated, and whatever it takes to be accepted into this so-called “sisterhood,” and then one month later they’re supposed to be BFFs with the people who tortured them. “Hey! Remember that time I beat your ass with a paddle and you couldn’t even walk? HAHA GOOD TIMES GIRL!”

Yeah….sounds like it?

I know that it is important for hazing rules and regulations to be implemented within the Greek system, but I truly feel that hazing will continue as long as there are people who are willing to be hazed.  Think about it:  Sororities and Fraternities haze because they know that there are so many Greek hopefuls who will do whatever it takes to be in that certain house.  If a couple dropout, there will always be more, and the select few will make it until the end.  But what if there were no willing participants?  What if every desperate freshman decided to suddenly respect themselves and not take part in anything so outrageous?  It would have to end, wouldn’t it?

So, ask yourself: how far would YOU go to fit in?

    Related TopicsLifestyle greek life sorority


    1. Goldilocks says:

      I am in a sorority, and it was one of the best decisions of my college life so far. I love the bond that I have with them, and all the other special things that come with being a part of Greek life. However, if I had had to be hazed in order to get into the organization, I would never have done it. My pledge process was used as a way to teach us, in a respectful and encouraging way, about our sorority and what sisterhood means. We were never called names, physically harmed, or made to do anything we were uncomfortable with, and as a result, our pledge class is incredibly close, and I trust my sisters more than anyone in the world. Greek life can be an amazing experience if you are exposed to it in the right way, but I don't understand those who would sacrifice their dignity and well-being to participate.

    2. vicky says:

      I go to rutgers and am seriously so disgusted by this. Walking around campus with news crews interviewing people did not make me feel very good. I mean i always thought there was some degree of hazing in these things but was never participated in any sorority related event where i could experience anything. It disgusts me that those girls did this and that the pledges didnt have the right mind to just walk out. I can understand, as you said, the need to fit in.. but honestly this was an unnecessary thing. Fraternities and sororities need to find other ways of bonding. One too maybe students have died or gotten terribly hurt from these activities, and i really hope it stops.

    3. cara says:

      I just want to say that I love being a member of a greek lettered org. and went through zero hazing as a pledge member. I you should have made the important distinction that Sigma Gamma ORho is not a National Panhellenic Sorority but rather a Pan-Hellenic sorority who may have less strict hazing policies. It is very important to make those distinctions because the NPC holds its members to a very VERY high standard of not hazing.

    4. LucyInTheSky says:

      Chiming in to (somewhat) agree with Cara. Sigma Gamma Rho is a NPHC sorority, which has a different governing body than the sorority you've rather unfairly pictured. Delta Zeta is a NPC sorority, along with 25 other sororities.

      Now the disagreement comes in… this doesn't mean that NPC sororities haven't hazed. It's not allowed, but it's also not allowed in NPHC sororities, officially. Often, the hazing that takes place in NPC sororities is less physical and more psychological.

      That said, I am a proud alumnae member of an NPC sorority and I was never hazed! Good chapters that follow the rules do exist.

    5. Tamara says:

      Even if they don't haze, I believe you could take the debate to another level; for example, last week I read on the internet about a sorority giving a super strict dress code with stuff like "if you're gonna were cheap clothes, I don't want to know" or "if you don't look like a model, don't wear a dress". And that thing about being chocen or not being chocen…come one, that's plain elitism!! No true feminist or democrat would join an elite and dated organization like that one; and I do not care how many community service they do, you can do that without being in a sorority.

      I don't mean to be disrespectful to the people in sororities, this is just my point of view on these kind of organizations.

    6. E. says:

      Yeah… this definitely doesn't happen in all fraternities and sororities, I can say from experience. My fraternity did not do anything during pledging that I felt uncomfortable with or morally offended by.

      That said… we totally broke my school's hazing regulations. At my college, they're so broad that just about anything can count as hazing if a student wants to make a fuss – there are a lot of student groups and, heck, even *classes* that couldn't pass the anti-hazing restrictions. It's really quite absurd, and I feel like it actually muddles the issue.

      Also, keep in mind that this "coming back for more" sort of behavior isn't really unique… People stay with friends and significant others who treat them badly, they join cults, etc.

    7. E. says:

      Also, Tamara: I'm guessing you're thinking about the Cornell thing? That was the dress code for a formal recruiting event. It was kinda silly, but again… those sorts of events have a dress code no matter where you go.

    8. E. says:

      …And, to give an example (since I realize that my statements must sound pretty questionable) – if we asked our pledges to keep a diary of pledging, or to take notes on something during pledging in a pledging-specific notebook, that would count as hazing.

    9. Dia says:

      LOL no way would i let someone beat my ass for them to be my friend, it doesn't even go hand in hand. i know hazing gives all sororities and fraternities a bad name but i know its not eh sor/frat itself but the foolish people in the house. such a shame

    10. Tamara says:

      E.: what I was trying to point out is that I have a problem with the whole idea of a sorrority beyond the hazing point. Again: organizations that only let in girls who look, dress and act in a certain way (that happens to be a very dated and antifeminist way) are not a good thing to me. They promote dated elitistic values and a conservative type of thought that I, personally and politically, don't like.

    11. Goldilocks says:

      I have to disagree with the idea of sororities being dated and antifeminist. I don't believe that everyone in a Greek organization has to dress or act a certain way- when we have recruitment, we don't judge girls on how pretty they are or what they wear (really, I promise!). My sorority is a group of girls with all different viewpoints, politically, socially, religiously and even artistically. As a sorority we do a lot of good things in the world, none of which are tied to any sort of political ideals. It is easy to judge greek life based on a few examples. However, when you live with girls that do everything from running track to sewing clothing in their free time, and who go to school for nursing, political science, theatre and accounting, I think it expands your worldview rather than shrinking it.

    12. Tamara says:

      Goldilock, and based on what you judge girls? What kind of girls are the ones rejected?

    13. K. says:

      I studied a theory in one of my classes last year, can't remember what it was called, that explains why cult members go through the steps that they do, and to some extent it can be applied to any student groups. Obviously not all make this choice. Even if a group doesn't haze this theory can still play a role because it involves creating a sense of being needed and a sense of community.

      I was in a sorority, and it wasn't one of the best experiences in my life although I did have a lot of good times. I did contemplate quitting during pledging because I wasn't sure it was a good fit, but went through with it anyway; however if anyone even suggested a paddle was going anywhere near me (or other acts of violence) I would've peaced out in a heart beat.

      Also, Cara, I think your comment about national/non-national organizations is ridiculous. I know at my school national organizations ran into just as many issues as the rest of them. Rules don't mean anything to some people.

    14. sara says:

      in my chapter, yes girls are judged by looks to some extent. they don't have to be supermodels, just look nice and classy. as tacky as it sounds, that can be a a judgment of character. like it or not, it is true that first impressions are important. if a girl wants to join our organization but comes in looking like she didn't comb her hair or with boobs/thong hanging out, of course she will be judged. almost like a job interview. self-presentation is important. also, we try to choose girls that we think can live up to the sorority's ideals. if a girl is snobby or uninterested we will not try to recruit her.

      one more thing. the whole "paying for your friends" bit… do people really think that just because sisters pay dues, that they don't have to work to make friends? just because you wear letters on your chest doesn't necessarily mean your sisters are your friends- like any relationship, you have to meet people and spend time with them before they become your friends. when i first joined, i didn't have 80 "new friends" i had 80 new girls who i knew shared common values and who i would most likely get along w better than 80 strangers. but don't think that just because you get a bid to sorority you have all these "friends". ALL friendships take time.

    15. Goldilocks says:

      I agree with Sara about paying for your friends:) But Tamara, although it is hard to define exactly how we decide which girls to extend bids to, there are very strict rules even about what we can and can't talk about. No girl can bring up a potential new members looks or clothing choices for example, because it is not a legitimate way to choose people. We look for girls based on shared values, their willingness to make a commitment to the sorority, academics, interests, and whether they want us. There's no hard and fast formula, but we definitely wouldn't extend a bid to a perfect Prada wearing model who was boring over a normal looking girl in sneakers that we had great conversations with and who wanted to be an active part of our organization.

    16. E. says:

      In our case, the basic question is, would they be a good addition to our family? That's what we are, after all. Same as Goldilocks said – what exactly that means will vary, but a lot of it comes down to whether they seem like good people, have made a good impression on the current brothers, and seem like they'd be interested in making this sort of commitment. Also – I don't know how common this is, but most of the people we recruit have actually spent a good while hanging out with us and making friends before rush starts.

    17. A says:

      I think hazing really depends on location and university because hazing rules at my university is super strict. We can't do anything "surprising" to new potential members (no scavenger hunts, no surprise dinners), you can't talk about certain subjects, basically if they are uncomfortable because of something you said or did it can be considered hazing.

      Some greek systems are also adopting a "no frills" recruitment policy, meaning you can't have parties or special events for pledges. Each chapter is allowed certain presenting materials and nothing more. They basically come to 1 informational session about the chapter each night for 5 nights (generally at a student center or a common location, not a house) and that's it.

      Also during out recruitment process this year we only did not extend a bid to 2 potential members. The reasons were 1.The first girl made a racist comment about a member of my sorority who was black driving a cadillac. Racist comments don't live up to my chapter's ideals so she didn't get an invite back, and 2. Another girl trying to get in caused a lot of trouble for a current members family, so we decided she wouldn't be a good fit for our chapter.

    18. Becca says:

      At my school, we said standing outside the houses for rush parties was the hazing… It was 11 degrees and sleeting.

    19. Anonymous says:

      This will always be debated. But think of this:

      "Nothing in life is easy" – and anything WORTHWHILE is even easier. Do you really want to be part of something you just sign up for? It's not a high school club – it is a sorority/fraternity. They are (believe it or not) networking groups that will help you out in your future with jobs and etc. You can use them to your advantage. Now I am not of course saying, beat me to an invh of my life and I will be so happy I am in – but doing the EXACT SAME THINGS (that have a purpose) as the older sisters had done to them DOES result in comraderie. You can go back to those sisters and share your experiences of your pledge scavenger hunt, your 'family dinner' where you being the pledge is required to cook, etc., take tests, memorize (and meet with) information on the different members, etc. It's like your training period, and EVERYONE goes through it. If it's handed to you, do you really think you will be bonded with those girls? No. And those are the organizations that end up extinct on their own.

      If you are Greek – you will always understand WHY you decided to go Greek. If you aren't Greek, you will always see the bad (due to a few stories in the news) with the organizations. Do you notice all the involvement the Greek community has in other campus organizations? Or how about the community service that each sister/brother is EACH organization does? Or do you just show up at the parties for the free alcohol that the Sorority/Fraternity pays for out of their own pocket? Thought so.

      "From the outside looking in, you can't understand it. From the inside looking out, you can't explain it".

      Do you and your friends ever tease or play practical jokes on each other? Well, technically that's hazing. Us making our pledges even wear a PLEDGE SHIRT is considered hazing.

      Get off your high horses and stop using the ONE or TWO negative stories you read about to form your judgement on something you know NOTHING about…because you haven't been a part of such an organization (greek or not).

    20. Tamara says:

      I know not every sorrority girl is shallow, and I believe there are good reasons to join one (the conexions you make for future jobs is probably the more powerful one to me). Maybe it is because I come from a country where the only student organizations existent are political ones, and I just don't understand the american college experience; but it's fine if you guys want to live like that.

    21. r says:

      Not gonna say what college it is, but my sister-in-law graduated 3 years ago and she was in a sorority, and man, some of the stories my brother's told me about rushing her sorority are terrible…one that stands out is they made the girls make mix cds for their big sisters and bring them to the house and decorate CD cases for them and oince they were done decorating they'd rip the case up and tell them it was ugly and they have to make another one…everyone ended up making at least two and if they had to stay up all night doing it, so be it. they'd also line ghirls up and scream in their faces, calling them fat and ugly and otherwise making fun of them…how little self-respect do you have to have to subject yourself to that?'

    22. el says:

      would it be possible for you to change the picture with DZ in it? Some people might look at this article and picture (and not take a look at your warning below it) and see DZ associated with hazing, and that is not at all what this article is about.


    23. ezl says:

      I think it is obvious to everyone that the girls in question do not resemble the girls in the photograph.

      A more accurate photo would involve many more tattoos, polyester, fat rolls, and mean looks on their faces.

      Not the type of sorority girls anyone would fantasize about. Delta Zetas always have some hot girls. Their "hazing" involves gift baskets and hugs.

    24. SL says:

      I belong to a sorority, and have since my freshmen year in college. As a new member (we were not allowed to use the word "pledge") I can honestly and thankfully say there was no hazing what so ever. It is truly awful when something like this happens because it puts Greek life into a negative light. Hazing is not happening within all Greek organizations. Greeks are much more than parties, alcohol and "paying for friends." It is a great opportunity to network, be involved in philanthropic events, and meeting your life long friends. If you are considering joining a sorority, you need to stand up for yourself, and if you are involved in hazing in any way, shape or form, there are hazing hotlines you can contact.

    25. steffanie says:

      hi. i work for an NPC sorority and was IN one in college. first of all, the bulk of the money paid for in Greek life goes to insurance fees that are in place to protect our members from any type of harm (financial or physical).

      second of all, i do feel this article needs to remove DZ sisters photo. i am not a DZ sister, but if it were my sorority, that image would be immediately removed and college candy would be contacted by our headquarters.

      third of all, most chapters DO judge women – but not on looks. more on involvement and leadership. maturity and responsibility. understanding and compassion.

      lastly, i agree with the author that these new members need to not allow hazing to occur to them. i know all NPC headquarters would agree.

      1. ssl says:

        its alpha zeta…and its not real

    26. Katie says:

      I just found this post while searching for something else online and I do have a couple of thoughts (even though it’s 6 months later). First of all I echo the sentiments of a couple of people on here that the photo selected is not the best, I am a member of that chapter, currently an alumnae advisor actually, and Delta Zeta takes hazing very seriously. I hope any prospective sorority woman will not look at the photo posted and immediately associate hazing with Delta Zeta. secondly, I could not agree more with one thing in particular mentioned in this post, why do new members allow this to happen? Being part of a sorority is the best decision I made in college, it completely changed my life for the better, and but any sorority woman that tells you that hazing is part of sisterhood has absolutely no clue what sisterhood means. Hazing has no place in Greek letter organizations and while I sincerely wish sorority women (and fraternity men) would stop hazing, I wish new members would stand up for themselves when it happens and stop taking it. There are so many good chapters out there who will not beat you into their sisterhood and those are the ones you want to be part of.

      1. Ren says:

        Katie, thank you for posting this. I'm going to piggy back on this post.

        I know this was posted over a year ago, but hope this is seen. I am a PROUD delta zeta alum. My letters are sacred to me, and it breaks my heart to see them affiliated with an article that immediately associates them with a completely hateful, sad aspect of Greek life that DZ takes so many steps and precautions to avoid and discourage.

        I respect the writers view point, but College Candy, please remove this photo of the women I consider my SISTERS (though I have not once met a single one of them) standing in front of letters that stand for temperance, insight, and courage, from this article, and be careful not to affiliate particular Greek organizations with generalizations.

    27. […] sorority, sports team, or even a more unofficial group, think twice before you haze – it’s way more serious than it seems at first glance. Some people see hazing as a rite of a passage, a tradition, or something that will make people […]

    28. […] in October 2010, 18-year-old Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi committed suicide after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, set up a webcam in their room […]

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