Hazing Issue in Fraternities

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Fraternities began establishing themselves at American colleges and universities in the early 19th century (Clay). Although unique, the principles upon which each Greek organization was founded are similar, including the pursuit of academic excellence, good citizenship, the development of leadership abilities among its members, and fellowship. These shared principles provide the foundation of the Greek system. Hazing attacks this foundation, challenging the very principles upon which the Greek system was founded. Hazing is an illegal activity and is defined as any action taken or situations created, whether on or off fraternity premises, which recklessly or intentionally produces mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule (Clay; Hennesy & Huson, 66). The issue of hazing, in fact, most frequently occurs in Fraternities than in any other organization. The major causes of hazing are the students' wanting a sense of belonging in a big college campus, the college's infrequent knowledge of what occurs in fraternities, and the unwillingness of fraternities to change tradition. Since hazing has been around for more than a century, one cannot expect the practice of hazing to stop all together. Possible solutions that may decrease, and eventually put a stop to hazing, include better education about fraternity hazing, stricter laws to prevent hazing from occurring, and more intervention from college administrators. Through this can Fraternities be restored to their intended purpose: providing moral and social support for college students.

The lack of a common definition of hazing often deters an institution from moving toward an enforceable policy prohibiting such conduct as hazing. An institutional policy should be developed defining and prohibiting hazing that is sufficiently broad to prohibit behaviors and activities. Such a definition is stated by Hennesy and Huson in the article "New Challenges For Greek Letter Organizations: Actions that recklessly or intentionally endanger students' safety or their physical or mental health; forced or required consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance; forced participation in physical activities…exposure to the elements; excessive fatigue resulting from sleep deprivation, physical activities, or exercise; physical brutality, including paddling, branding, and striking with fists, open hands or objects; verbal abuse…forced or required conduct that could embarrass or negatively affect the individual's dignity…denial of sufficient time to study; assignment of activities that are illegal or unlawful or that might be morally offensive to individual pledges; forced trips that involve kidnapping or stranding individuals. (67)

Institutions and senior students affairs officers should develop an institutional policy defining and prohibiting hazing that is sufficiently broad enough to prohibit the various behaviors and activities associated with hazing. However, there are several reasons why stricter regulations are not applied to the initiations of fraternities, these being the strong sense tradition hazing has instilled in fraternities and the belief that this process creates a sense of bonding. Fraternity members do not want to change the tradition of hazing. Hazing has been a part of fraternity initiations ever since fraternities were founded. Hazing is used to test the pledges that wanted to join the fraternity, to make sure that the pledge is "fraternity material," or in other words, able to handle the ludicrous requirements that current members of the fraternity may invoke upon its new members. According to one pledge, fraternity members have a feeling that if "I went through it, you should too", as long as there are people in the fraternity who were beaten, they feel they have a right to treat new members in the same manner by beating them as well (Morgan, 1). Many fraternity members do not consider new members to be true members...
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