Life On The Line Essay, Research Paper
On college campuses, hazing is all a part of joining a fraternity or a sorority some people might say. Hazing defined in the Webster’s Dictionary means to harass with silly, disagreeable, or demeaning tasks (322). How does this definition in terms differ to the way that hazing is displayed on the many college campuses? I plan on telling you in my essay three things that prove hazing is wrong.
Ivy Zlotnick, president of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority said, “I find the university’s definition of hazing any intentional, negligent, or reckless action, activity or situation which causes another pain, embarrassment, ridicule, or harassment, regardless of the individual’s willingness to participate – wholly appropriate” (Collins 1). There is a difference between pledging a fraternity or sorority and sisterhood or brotherhood. Pledging means that you have to put into it a lot of effort and a lot of time (Webster 536). Sisterhood is a group, society, or community of sisters (Webster 646). Brotherhood is the state or quality of being brothers (Webster 93). The members of fraternities and sororities are considered brothers and sisters, but they don’t act as though they are. If you are suppose to be a family then you are not suppose to beat each other.
Hazing has been going on for over 100 years on college campuses. Laws have been made in 35 states stating that hazing is against the law (Johnson A1). Why do fraternities and sororities still do it? I did an oral survey asking people did they think that
hazing should be legalized, and a majority of the people answered “no”. Their reasons were that people can be harmed physically and mentally, there’s a lot of stress that comes along with the territory of suing, and death could occur. They don’t think that joining a fraternity or sorority is worth that. If sororities and fraternities conducted themselves in the same mannerism as their definitions place them to be in the dictionary, then there would be no problem with any kind of hazing incidents.
A fraternity in the Webster’s Dictionary is a social organization of male college students (Webster 279). A majority of social organizations have a no hazing policy. Social organizations are normally full of people who want to have fun. Getting your body beat and bruised up isn’t very many people’s idea of fun. For example, Joseph J. Snell, 26, was a junior at the University of Maryland when the hazing incident reportedly occurred in 1993. Over a time of four weeks, fraternity members in a black fraternity, beat him with a hammer, horse-hair whip, broken chair leg, and brush. They put a space heater next to his face to darken his skin because they said he wasn’t Black enough. He sued the fraternity in 1995 after 24 members agreed to pay his medical expenses, but only half of them did. The jury granted Snell $300,000 in punitive damages and $75,000 to compensate Snell for his physical and emotional injuries. Omega Psi Phi argued that the beatings were committed by rogue members whose actions were not sanctioned by the fraternity (Clark 23).
A sorority is a social club for women, but there was nothing social about the hazing allegations that were brought against the Delta Sigma Theta sorority at Georgia State University. College administrators say that, “While sorority hazing is more likely
to involve emotional or psychological abuse than physical violence, it is becoming a more serious problem on some campuses” (Geraghty A37). In spite of all the allegations that were brought against Delta Sigma Theta, university officials and other sorority members said that hazing is not a part of the initiation rites of most of the school’s sororities. “I don’t think you have to haze someone to make them loyal if they believe in what they are doing,” said Ivy Zlotnick, who was not involved in the hazing case (Collins 1).
There was one unusual case of hazing brought against some students at Texas A&M University. A man named John Warren was a pledge for the fraternity Kappa Alpha during his sophomore year attending Texas A&M University. He claimed that Jonathan Culpepper, a member of Kappa Alpha, poured a can of beer on him while he was held down and made to do pushups. In the process of it all, Jonathan Culpepper yanked John Warren up sharply by his underwear. John Warren could not walk the following two days later due to pain. When he went to the hospital he had surgery where the doctors removed one of his testicles. John Warren pressed charges against Jonathan Culpepper and some other pledges, but hazing in considered a misdemeanor. This is chastened by a $4000 fine and no less than one year in prison (Gose A37). After pleading no contest, he received a $500 fine and 80 hours of community service. If he completes an 18-month probation period, the “wedgie” incident will be struck from his record (Gose A37).
Most of the serious hazing incidents still occur in fraternities. Many fraternity members say quietly that “hazing is valuable, despite the policies banning it, most hazing
is mild and creates bonds among those who endure it (Gose A38).” Other members site a viscous cycle: Once a student has been hazed, he wants a chance to dole out similar abuse (Gose A38). What I do not understand is how beating each other up and even beating each other to death can bring anyone closer. That is like saying a man who beats his wife, or vice versa, is only trying to bring them closer together. If you are trying to gather brotherhood or sisterhood, you are accomplishing nothing by hurting each other. That is just one less brother or sister that you could have added to your brotherhood or sisterhood.
There are those fraternities and sororities that are trying to get rid of hazing. They feel that civil suits are costly, which they are. In February, the parents of Gabe Higgins were awarded $1.09-million in a settlement against 18 members of the Cowboys organization and the owner of the land on which he died (Gose A38). If this is not considered expensive I do not know what is. There is not very many people in this world that just have $1.09-million dollars laying around that they would want to give away.
Other ways of hazing include, making pledges drink until they are vomiting or so drunk that they can’t even stand on their own, but in a few cases the pledges have been so drunk that they died. A student at Louisiana State University is suing the school, the fraternity and a local bar. They are being sued because of a night of drinking, where one student died. Benjamin Winnie, a freshman at Louisiana State University brought the charges against Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Murphy’s bar for damages that occurred while he was drunk. Murphy’s was established in 1980. It has been known as the social club
for people who are in fraternities and sororities. The bar has been closed since Wins death (Smith 5).
This is what needs to be done in these hazing situation. Someone needs to take a stand for what they know is right. No one has the right to hurt or risk someone’s life especially over something so small as a group or social club. If you want this to stop you will do the honest thing and report it if you know that it is going on.
Collins, Elizabeth. “Is Hazing An Appropriate Form Of Initiation?” The Advocate 13, June 1997, A1+.
Clark, Matthew. Hazing In Sororities and Fraternities. New York: Lexington, 1993.
Johnson, Gerald. “Laws on Hazing.” New York Times 122, Sept. 1996,A1.
Geraghty, Mary. “Hazing Incidents At Sororities Alarm Colleges.” The Phoenix 20, June 1997, A37+.
Gose, Ben. “Efforts To End Fraternity Hazing Have Largely Failed, Critics Charge.” The Chronicle Of High Education 18 April 1997, A37+.
Smith, Deann. “Accounts of Death Conflict.” The Advocate 29 Aug. 1997, 1-A.