College Hazing

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Hazing in universities across the nation has become an increasingly dangerous ritual that is seemingly becoming more difficult to put an end to due to its development into an "underground" activity. Though a regular activity in the seventies, hazing, a possible dangerous act of initiation to a group, has now become an activity that is banned in thirty-nine states (Wagner 16). However, this ritual has not been stopped or become less severe. In fact it is becoming more dangerous. Since it has been banned, with many colleges imposing their own penalties against those participating in it, many fraternities and sororities have pursued this activity in an underground fashion. Since these groups have gone underground, some victims of these rituals have been injured and subsequently died. This is due to the "hazers" not seeking medical treatment for the victims, for fear that they may be fined or charged by police or campus authorities. One estimate states that at least sixty-five students have died between the years of 1978 and 1996 from beatings and stress inflicted during fraternity initiation rites ("Greek" 26). Hazing has been defined in the Pennsylvania Hazing Law as "any action or situation which recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical safety of a student or which destroys or removes public or private property for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in, any organization operating under the sanction of or recognized as an organization by an institution of higher education. The term shall include, but not be limited to, any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance, or any forced physical activity which could adversely affect the physical health and safety of the individual, and shall include any activity which would subject the individual to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, forced exclusion from social contact, forced conduct which could result in extreme embarrassment, or any other forced activity which could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the individual"("Pennsylvania Hazing Law" 1). The importance of this hazing situation is the fact that people are being injured, both physically and mentally, causing death or lifelong trauma. Though it may seem like an easy to control situation, the truth is that it is not easy at all. The only times that these groups, who subject individuals to hazing activities, are caught or penalized is after the damage done to an individual is so horrible as to result in death or hospitalization. The act of hazing may consist of something as subtle as a "pledge", one who is trying to become a part of the group, having to answer phones at a fraternity house to extreme hazing such as being severely beat with paddles or even bricks. Since hazing takes many forms, it is hard for the public to realize that these "pledges" are actually being harmed. It is especially hard to see the mental abuse aspect of this situation. At times, "pledges" may be forced to wear humiliating items such as dog collars or diapers. It may look like an innocent prank, and may actually seem humorous, but stunts like this can deeply affect a person emotionally (Scleifer 42). Hazer's in Greek societies have also been known to play the "buzz-saw" game in which a chainsaw is held inches away from a pledge until he/she screams in terror. This practice is used to instill respect, in the form of extreme fear, into the pledges ("The Persistent Madness of Greek Hazing" 14). Physical hazing, however, is where the most life threatening problems are occurring. With groups such as Omega Psi Phi of the University of Florida, who whacked its inductees in the heads with boards, beat them with fists, and hit them with bricks, one can only expect catastrophic...
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