Hazing is a hazardous and risky type of bullying, but is often misconstrued as a form of bonding. Hazing is an old, well-known tradition, not only in college fraternities, but in sororities, the military, athletic teams, and student organizations at both high school and college levels. Hazing involves involuntary acts that could just be innocent fun, but are usually highly dangerous, illegal, and emotionally damaging. “‘Hazing’ refers to any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate” (Keim).
Most victims of hazing go through with the acts in hopeful regards to be accepted and thought highly of. Sometimes they may be intimidated or fearful, but are so concerned with wanting to be recognized that they undergo peer pressure and follow through with the unintelligent acts. Many incidents involving hazing are intended to be harmless and innocent fun, they can quickly escalate into something more serious and dangerous. Although 44 states have laws against hazing, a federal law needs to be inducted to show more seriousness about abolishing hazing all over the United States.
Hazing in college, probably one of the most dangerous of all instances, is the most common and consistent variety of hazing. In many cases, the acts of initiation are harmless and considered funny, but in some cases the innocent act ends up with an unexpected result. As an example, 25 year old Michael Davis wanted to join a fraternity called Kappa Alpha Psi at Southeast Missouri State University. As part of the initiation, Davis and other pledges were pummeled, body slammed and kicked repeatedly by senior fraternity members. As a result of losing consciousness, Davis died of trauma to the brain. An autopsy proved he suffered from a slashed kidney, broken ribs, and a bruised liver. The frat ended up having to pay his parents 2.25 million dollars to settle the lawsuit. As a result of Davis’ death, hazing is now considered a felony in Missouri. Penalties may include up to seven years in jail (“Hazing (sidebar)”).
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This proves a little harmless fun can end up in an undesired way. A lot of people, including teens and young adults, don’t realize the danger they’re putting themselves and other through by hazing. Many people see it as a way to get to know one another, or bond in other words. They also see it as a tradition or ritual that everyone does in order to be accepted into a social setting. Another incident involving Joseph Snell, a student of the University of Maryland, ended up with a reward of $375,000 in damages. The members of the fraternity allegedly beat him on a regular basis with a hammer, horsehair whip, and the legs of a chair. The fraternity argued they weren’t help responsible for it, but lost the case against him (“Hazing”).
Although many people are blinded to the heinous outcomes of some hazing incidents, many people partaking in the actions know it may not be healthy, but are too reluctant to do anything about it.
People often haze other people for a good laugh or to feel superior in the way that they have total say and power over another person. They say it, you do it; no questions asked. Hazing often leads to low-self esteem and inevitably, self-consciousness. Not only does hazing involve physical abuse such as in Davis’ and Snell’s case, but many times it involves embarrassment and excessive drinking activities. Sororities are often accused less of hazing because it’s more common in males, but when they do contribute in these actions it usually involves things other than abuse to the body (Grandillo 3).
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Sometimes sororities force pledges to bring markers to meetings and circle the body parts from which they need to lose weight. In another instance, the elder members make the girls wear their weight on their forehead in permanent marker while doing everyday activities such as going to class (Lambert 5).
In one appalling experience, two women of California State University drowned at Dockweiler State Beach on September 9th. Kristin High, 22, and Kenitha Saafir, 24, were pledging the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority. Several members of the sorority watched while the two girls were blind-folded and tied up to be thrown in the ocean. The expectations weren’t for them to be hurt or killed, but the rip-tide resulted in a strong under-current. The sorority is being sued for 100 million dollars (“Anti-hazing”).
This goes to show that many people don’t know what they’re getting themselves into by agreeing to do these things. A good resolution to issues such as dangerous hazing would be to end the things that cause danger. If it’s so necessary to “initiate” a new member, playing a board game, or having a trivia of some sort about the fellow members would eliminate the problems.
More than 70 people have died from results of hazing in the last 20 years, and 98% of those deaths involved alcohol consumption of some sort. Most of the deaths revolving around alcohol came from college campus hazing. (Grandillo 7).
Forty-four states have anti-hazing laws and in 12 states, hazing is prosecuted as a felony. Hazing robs a person of their dignity and pride. People haze because they like to feel dominant and feel like they’re teaching in some way. Many members who haze are insecure and thrive off suppressing others to make themselves feel worthy and more important. They feel like they’re role models and that the other members need them and that gives them a sense of security. They want to gain respect and recognition by others but do so by torturing, taunting, and threatening new members of the group. They derive their self-worth and importance by exerting power over others (Lambert).
If they feel like they’re leading and everyone has to listen to whatever they say, it makes them feel valuable. People associate fraternities and sororities with abuse, promiscuity, and lack of self-esteem. Although many view joining a new group, including frats and sororities, as an opportunity and great way to make lasting friendships, the truth is the actual becoming apart of it typically causes more harm than good.
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One way to help solve the trouble dealing with hazing is by setting up organizations that teach the meaning and consequences of it. A good amount of hazing acts has led to death, and even more have caused serious lifelong injury or trauma. Most of the consequences are not intentional and weren’t thought through with precaution during the actual acts. This is why it’s important to set up associations educating people about the actuality and reality of hazing. One organization that is currently being constructed called the Hazing Prevention Institute is looking for an on campus location to open in 2009. They plan to have a hazing intervention that will bring together professionals and volunteers from a wide variety of perspectives to receive training and discuss how to successfully address the issue of hazing (“Anti-Hazing”).
Some other organization approaches are created from within college students themselves. Youth for Positive Change, YFPC, is a student organization to help teach the horrors of hazing and the possible outcomes. The group is formed out of MASH, Mothers Against School Hazing. They use drama to educate about the harmful effects of hazing. They work on writing, performing, and creating stage props for skits that will show what hazing does to students, the hazers, the schools, and the families of those involved. The skits are performed at schools, churches and other organizations for various age groups. These groups working on making a difference are still in process (“Hazing (sidebar)”).
Sometimes it’s hard to make people aware of them or even join, but that’s something they’re willing to deal with and try to work past. One woman expresses her outlook as, “I believe we need to define hazing as a social problem, and build a language and a consciousness about it” (Paulson 4).
People with that attitude are the reason the groups are a success to everyone exposed to them. Hopefully they stay determined with long-terms goals and change the nonchalant attitude towards hazing. Hazing affects many different parts of college life and the larger society, and is complicated by the secrecy and tradition in which it’s practiced. Its elimination requires a unified and definite approach (Wilcox).
Words: 1246International Baccalaureate English 11 Period 19 January 2006Natural Law and State Law in AntigoneIn Antigone, one of the meanings Sophocles presents is State Law versus Natural Law which do not always agree. Sophocles uses characterization to show the conflict between the two ideas. State Law is defined as a translation of Natural Law into “concrete norms governing peoples and nations” ...
Through the training, these groups plan to bring together the individuals with the power to impact the problem on a large-scale, and provide the tools to help them do so.
A more serious approach to ending hazing than creating groups is state/campus laws and consequences. Forty-four states have outlawed hazing. Arizona is the most recent state that passed a law. Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming, and South Dakota still have yet to pass laws. Most of the laws include that it is illegal to commit, aid, or assist in hazing. It is classified from a class A misdemeanor to a class C misdemeanor. Also, some laws require fines up to as much as $3,000 and imprisonment for up to 90 days (“Hazing Laws”).
Not only do state laws come down hard on hazing, so do college campuses. The University of Michigan’s code of conduct prohibits hazing. Those who are responsible for hazing face penalties which may include a range of educational outcomes to separation from the University (suspension or expulsion).
Not only do the certain people get punished, the group does as well. The groups held responsible for participating in these acts lose recognition within the University and campus and are shut down. This attempt in eliminating hazing definitely is successful; when caught. The problem with hazing is that you can only do something about it once something goes wrong and you find out. There’s no actual way to prevent it other than setting strict regulations with expectation that people take it seriously.
To effectively approach this problem with hopes of ending it, a few steps would need to be taken so do so. If I had to go about ending this world-wide problem, the best thing to do would be to have a federal law in the Unites States made. In the movie Animal House, crazy college students get expelled from their college because of hazing. Not all colleges do that, and serious consequences such as expelling would be a big part of the law. Even though 44 states have laws against hazing, there are still a few that do not. Although it’s obviously a serious enough problem that states outlawed it, because each state has a different set of guidelines and consequences, people don’t take it as seriously. That’s why to show the seriousness of ending hazing; a federal law needs to be inducted into the United States.
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Because making a federal law is easier said than done, a few steps would need to be followed in order to do so. First of all, I would create an organization made up of specialized experts on the topic hazing. There needs to be some sort of association to push the idea of making a federal law about hazing. They would discuss the law in its entirety and the consequences the law would testify. The organization would protest hazing and fight for the law to be enacted.
The next part to finalizing the law would be to do something about the awareness and knowledge of hazing. Too many people don’t know the first thing about hazing and its downfalls, so in order to teach this to people I would add hazing curriculum into schools. What better way to show kids the repulsion of hazing other than to add it into their everyday, mandatory studies? If children had the option to learn about it, chances are they would opt out it; hence the reason so many people are unaware of it today. We need to teach more people about hazing or no one will fight for the law because they don’t know what they’re fighting for. Since teenagers and young adults are the primary source of hazing, adding a mandatory curriculum involving the educating of hazing to schools is the best approach to educate the children of the hazing generation we live in today.
Not only is federalizing a law a lot of work, it can be expensive in the approaches to do so. In order to successfully accomplish the tasks to pass the law, there has to be some serious funding. For the construction of an organization, a lot of things need to be financed. Also, in order to add curriculum into a school system, some things need to be funded as well. In order to pay for all this, I would tax all clothes and manufactured products relating. Taxing all clothing items would raise enough money to fund all the plans trying to get that federal passed.
Hazing is an outrageous attempt at group bonding, and many times gets out of hand. Although most times these are meant to be harmless pranks and fun, they can quickly escalate into something dangerous. Hazing doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, be harmful and destructive but in most cases it is. Not only does it cause physical damage, but it causes a good amount of emotional breakdown as well. Even though there have been various attempts at ending these demeaning acts, none have been able to really conquer the thought of hazing. In order for people to have a serious outlook on hazing and the penalties that follow, a somber and strict line must be drawn; in other words a federal law. Eventually, hazing will be thought of as a crime to many more than now, and hazing will be lessened and maybe even abolished in the United States for good.
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