The imposition of strenuous, often humiliating, tasks as part of a program of rigorous physical training and initiation. This is known as hazing. Hazing is very common in several different social groups such as fraternities and sororities, athletic teams, and military groups. Hazing is prohibited by law or prohibited by the institutions. There are currently six states in the United States that have no laws regarding hazing. Nebraska is a state that has a law against hazing, yet it continues to happen.
Since fall of 2014, four fraternities at the University of Nebraska Lincoln have been suspended by the university. One incident involved a sorority at UNL of new pledges being blindfolded and forced to carry an egg at all times. They were also forbidden from touching pink and purple and talking to men. The sorority was suspended from all activities for a year. There are three types of hazing: subtle hazing, harassment hazing, and violet hazing.
Subtle hazing involves requiring new members to perform unnecessary duties, perform sit ups or push ups, sleep deprivation, assigned to do meaningless or impossible tasks, etc.
Harassment hazing involves yelling or screaming, chores, wearing embarrassing or uncomfortable clothing, assigning pranks, being dropped off somewhere and forced to find the way back, and more. Then there is violent hazing which involved capturing or kidnapping, total or partial nudity, compelled sexual activity, forced consumption of any liquid or food, etc. I am currently in a sorority at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Throughout my time in a sorority, the University and head of greek life, has made it there priority to make it clear that hazing is not okay and will not be tolerated.
Though there has not been many hazing incidents at UNO there has been at UNL. UNL, unlike UNO, has 15 different sororities and around 20 different fraternities. Why is hazing still an issue and what is Nebraska doing to abolish it? Many people believe hazing isn’t all that bad because people view hazing as a way of officially becoming a member and proving yourself worthy. There are also others who think hazing is not acceptable and never will be.
At least one person dies a year in the United States due to hazing. But why is it so common? Hazing is considered a rite of passage to new members. Some see it as bonding and unity. Due to the secrecy of initiations in fraternities and sororities, there have only been a few published hazing surveys. There was a cited survey conducted by education researchers at the University of Maine in 2011. There were 11,482 undergraduate students from 53 colleges and universities that filled out the survey. From the survey researchers found that 55 percent of all students involved in collegiate groups experienced or witnessed hazing. The study indicated that only five percent of the hazings students experienced or witnessed were reported to law enforcement or the college. I believe many people do not report these things because it could cost them their spot in the program.
People have reasons for hazing but what are they? Aldo Cimino an anthropologist, explains that older members do not want new members to enter the group/organization with a free pass. He says that hazing rituals are a demonstration of worthiness through a series of challenges. For example, if one person were to join a fraternity and have to go through a few weeks of nonstop duties to the upperclassman, he would think once he is an upperclassman he could make new members do these duties for him. Another theory on why hazing is still so common is that hazing is a never ending cycle of reciprocity, what was done to them, they now do to others. Often, defense lawyers try to convince the jury that the victims that perform these tests do it willingly and therefore, are as much participants as the hazers themselves. Until the late 1980s, courts tended or regard even deaths as unfortunate accidents, resulting in little to no jail time for hazers. In the last 40 years, laws have been made against hazing in 44 states, have ruled death or injuries related to hazing should be regarded as crimes and not accidents.
University of Nebraska Lincoln has made an initiative to solve systematic problems such as hazing. When current seniors came to UNL in the fall of 2014, a freshman FarmHouse fraternity pledge, Clayton Real, died in the house after suffering from alcohol poisoning, kicking off a trend of suspensions. Also, recently Phi Gamma Delta was suspended in March 2017 for “reckless alcohol use, hazing and inappropriate sexually based behavior,” according to the Nebraska Today press release. From these incidents, UNL took a new initiative called Greek Vitality. It was enacted by the administration to counter several issues surrounding Greek life such as rush week, hazing, inclusiveness and social activities. Many thought because of this new program, that 2018 may be the first year without a hazing death in the United States since 1961. However, there was one incident at UNL that caused a fraternity to be suspended. Nebraska is a state that has a law against hazing, yet, it continues to happen. August 20th, 2018 a parent of a Nebraska Lincoln (UNL) college student reached out to UNL in regards to her son, ill after a weekend of alcohol consumption at the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house as well as an undisclosed off campus location. UNL has since ceased the fraternities operations as it investigated its events. This hazing incident could have caused that kid his life. Because of this incident UNL greek vitality has not yet proved itself to work. I am hoping from this recent experience they know what to do next time, and how to better detect it.
Another way to look at hazing is that not all of it is considered bad. Francis is the author of an article titled “I support hazing”. From this article, Francis explains how he is thinking more along the lines of discipline when it comes to hazing. The definition of hazing varies from a person or organizations perspectives. Francis says they want to provide a unique experience and ensure that they will have the best new members. Without a hazing process, your membership is the equivalent to a participation trophy. Hazing taught Francis that our generation really needs to get a grasp on respect. He supports the type of hazing that lets your superiors ridicule you to teach your patience, it is perfectly okay with certain boundaries. When a group hazes potential new members, it teaches them discipline and respect.
The type of hazing he is describing it completely different to the type of hazing that causes kids to lose their lives. Francis also thinks that if a groups wants to haze they should have the initiate sign a contract that gives members the ability to commit these actions. I believe that when Francis is talking about hazing he is referring more along the lines of discipline. That when a group hazes the potential new members it teaches them something involving discipline and respect. I also agree when he says he is against certain instances such as being hazed and losing a life from it. In the article he also says if a group wants to haze they should have the initiate sign a contract that gives members the ability to commit these actions. At the same time, I do not think you have to prove yourself to get into a sport or association by hazing. Hazing is causing young men and/or women to lose their life because of this. I understand the writer is referring more to discipline in hazing but that is an awful word to hide behind. Initiation is not worth their life.
According to Hans Dix, hazing taught him so much. Dix said he spent the whole semester disciplining himself into becoming a tougher man because of his fraternities hazing. He, along with other freshman were forced to clean the beer soaked floor after parties and the disgusting toilets of the house for their first semester at his fraternity. He said almost all pledges felt a time where they were hopeless and doubted their choices but once the end of that semester came, it all made up for it. He said it was the best feeling in the world to be done and that he made it. The hazing he went through taught him discipline, strength, and helped his freshman ego. This is what many people think and that is why hazing continues to happen.
Many people believe hazing will never be okay. Mackenzie Elizabeth Treadwell is the author of an article titled “Hazing is not and never will be OK”. Hazing is a major problem all over the world. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but saying you support something that has costs the lives of so many young adults, Treadwell couldn’t look away. Treadwell knows the recruitment process for sororities and how they all spend days and hours carefully selecting a chapter to call home. Along with athletic groups and military groups are not a walk in the park to get in. With years of training and bravery. Everyone should have respect for their own body and own self to not let anyone treat you like garbage just to get into a club. I believe hazing is not okay, especially if it involves losing a life. Hazing is a problem that lots of people are facing today and it is even causing the young lives of men and women. I believe one should never be equivocate to a participation award, especially those in the military services and athletic teams. Those who spent years and hours preparing and to finally make a team, that is enough proof for them. Looking at it another way, not all hazing is possibly bad. There are certain instances that just provide a welcoming into the group by surprise. Some hazing is used to not belittle anyone but to provide them with a unique experience. There could be another word used for that because when someone thinks of hazing they think of awful things that force people against their will.
Overall, I believe hazing is not acceptable and should never be forced on someone just to be accepted into a group. Hazing is still a problem in Nebraska and across the United States due to people believing it is necessary. October of 2014 four fraternity brothers of the UNL Farmhouse fraternity where charged with the death of Clayton Real due to hazing. He was forced to consume a high amount of alcohol his second week of college. Clayton Reals blood alcohol content was .378 percent, four and a half times the legal limit to drive. Reals died from acute alcohol intoxication. There have been many incidents since involving kids being sent to the ER with alcohol poisoning due to hazing. This brings me back to my initial question, Why is hazing still an issue and what is Nebraska doing to abolish it? I believe hazing is still an issue because many see it as bonding and unity, older members of fraternities and sororities do not want new members entering with a free pass, it teaches discipline, and many more. Hazing is a never ending cycle of reciprocity. To answer the other part of my question, UNL took a new initiative called Greek Vitality. It was enacted by administration to counter several issues surrounding Greek life such as rush week, hazing, inclusiveness and social activities. Since this program has been enacted, there has been one or more hazing incident at UNL. Because of this incident UNL greek vitality has not yet proved itself to work. I am hoping from this recent experience they know what to do next time, and how to better detect it. There are many steps being taken to end hazing for good in Nebraska and across the United States. Hopefully within the next few years, hazing will be stopped indefinitely.