Unfortunately, hazing and college go together almost as seamlessly as Solo cups and Natty Light. Fraternities and sororities get most of the attention, but hazing activities pop up all across campus. Sports teams, student groups… even student government hazes new members in some way.
According to StopHazing.org, hazing is defined as “any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.” That can include everything from going to an event in costume to being thrown off a roof between two matresses (and yes, that did happen at my school).
In its original form, hazing was used to create a bond between a group of people. Basically, older members would put their new recruits through obstacles in attempts to force them to band together against their oppressors. And in theory it works – how many times during middle school did you and your classmates band together when faced with an evil teacher or, better, a sub?
The problem is that it has gone too far. Students are getting injured and sometimes even killed during acts of hazing. ABC recently did a study on this where they brought hazing out into the open to see if people would step up and stop the cruel acts. And what happened?
Well, when men were being hazed most people stepped in to stop it. When women were being hazed, however, most people stood by and watched, letting the poor girls be humiliated and hurt. It was a spectacle and people wanted to see what happened next.
It was horrifying and difficult to watch, but it made me realize that I have done this many times. Not only was I hazed as a freshman (mostly benign things like dressing up or being an older girl’s “slave”), but I knew about many other kids being hazed and never did anything about it. I wrote it off as just another thing that “everyone goes through” and let it continue. Yes, even when it was happening in front of me.
Campuses have cracked down on hazing recently, but it has not stopped. Could this be because we, the people closest to it, allow it to go on?
Every college student has encountered hazing in some way, so I’d like to know: would you stop hazing if you saw it? If not, why? Let it all out in the comments.