Fraternities and Sororities and Hazing Expert

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Hazing, in general, but mostly on college campuses, is very ‘hush hush', yet serious, issue. Most hazing events fly below the radar of campus officials and therefore are usually unheard of by the public. However, hazing occurs more often than people want to believe, even in places that people would never think to look. Whether it is in the more common areas such as sororities and fraternities on college campuses or between a junior and senior class in high school, hazing is hazing and it is a serious, and sometimes deadly, issue. 76% of students, who joined or attempted to join a fraternity or sorority group, were hazed during the pledging process. Most people automatically associate the word ‘hazing' with fraternities and sororities. But what most people don't know is that hazing occurs much more often than in greek life; of those who reported incidents of hazing, 25% of them said that it occurred at ages thirteen and younger. Hazing is prevalent in between classes in both high school and college, sports teams, interest and peer groups and increases with age, leading to heightened levels of statistics of hazing in the college years. Athletes, fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, members of church groups, club members, even rookies at jobs have had experiences or encounters with hazing (Alfred University: Research Study). Hazing is almost always associated with harmless pranks and antics that serves as a caste system of the new and the old members of a group, but rarely associated with death. There have been many deaths and many more serious injuries due to hazing of all kinds over the years. And from the words of Hank Nuwer, a hazing expert: "even a single death is a grave loss for the greek system" or for any system, for that matter (Nuwer).

The most common type of hazing is found in the pledge processes of fraternities and sororities. Hazing, in many forms, is detrimental to both emotional and physical elements of the body and is often deemed ‘okay' and viewed as a privilege or reward to be the ‘hazor' for having been on the ‘hazee' end of the deal. Psi Gamma, a local and longest running sorority at the University at Albany, has records dating back to before the 1900s in the University Archives Library. Among those collections, a pledge book (a notebook the pledges are mandated to keep with them at all times that includes many tasks and assignments) dated February 13-17, 1961 belonging to a pledge by the name of Evelyn "Corky" Petrick was found. Inside the pledge book were letters referring to the infamous "Hell Night" or "Hell Week", which is usually the last week of pledging before crossing over and becoming a brother or sister. This week usually entails sleep deprivation due to the mass amount of tasks required. Psi Gamma's letters were processed by typewriter and written backwards or mirrored and glued into the book, so to be harder to read. Psi Gamma conveniently titled their letters with "HELLP NIGHT" and "HELLP WEEK", given to the pledges from the "Hellp Master" and fellow sisters. Also belonging to "Corky", was a Psi Gamma Demerit Book, common to many other sororities as well. Written inside the book were hand written accusations of ‘wrong doings' that the "lowly pledges" (a name given to the pledges by the Psi Gamma sisters) had committed. Later, during "Hellp Week", the pledges were to perform series of tasks, pending on their total number of points deducted, in order to be ‘forgiven' (Psi Gamma Records). Although death is not the typical outcome of their pledge processes, there have been many deaths blamed on the hazing acts of pledge programs. "On an early September evening [2002], two California State University students, Kristin High and Kenitha Saafir, participated in an Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority pledging activity… . After running through sets of rigorous calisthenics on the sand at Dockweiler State Beach, Kristin and Kenitha, blindfolded and bound at the wrists, were led into fierce riptides and...
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