As portrayed in the 1978 hit movie Animal House, college fraternities/sororities are a hotbed of excessive drinking, casual sex, vandalism, and generally licentious behavior. But, in real life, unlike the movie, the results of such conduct are hardly laughable. Even though the nationwide membership in both fraternities and sororities are at an all time high of 350,000 members, fraternities and sororities are still receiving harsh criticism from university leaders and civic authorities. In the face of several recent incidents, fraternity and sorority behaviors can no longer be viewed as harmless school boy or school girl high jinks, but must be seen for what it truly is, a dangerous threat to the lives of innocent students.
At the center of the controversy is the problem of hazing, an initiation ritual that has been around for as long as the fraternities and sororities themselves. Hazing occurs when brothers and sisters (mostly brothers) physically or mentally abuse the pledges that are candidates for membership. When girls usually pledge, they are sometimes often commanded to drink excessively, appear in skimpy outfits and model for the big brothers as they were told that a part of their body needed work. They were also woken up to run to the grocery store on absurd late-night errands for sisters. Most people become so
disillusioned with the whole sorority and fraternity system that they may feel the need to withdraw their pledges.
Luckily, most people are not physically harmed by the hazing process, but other pledges have not been so fortunate. For Example, at Long Island University, a pledge was hospitalized with broken ribs after being beaten by brothers who acted in the name of an initiation tradition. (American Journal of Emergency Medicine, Volume 20, Issue 3, 228-233) Also, a pledge at Oklahoma State University claimed that brothers tried to build “unity through terror” by forcing him to endure hours of humiliating criticism, including sarcastic attacks on his intelligence, looks and personality. Furthermore, the Phi Gamma Deltas or Fijis at Arizona State, frequently forced pledges to vomit and regularly interrupted their sleep by shaking them during the night. At North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, an Omega Psi Phi member was convicted on seven counts of assaults with a deadly weapon after participating in his fraternity’s “Turn Back Night.” During this infamous Omega tradition, pledges were treated to a meal of dog food and cheap wine, several paddling, and midnight trip to a densely wooded area, far from the campus, where they were abandon and told to find their way home. At Chopin State University in Baltimore, a pledge took a fraternity to court after his flesh was branded with a Greek insignia. (www.stophazing.org)
As despicable as these incidents may seem, there have been others with much more serious incidents and consequences that have occurred. For instance, in February of
2002, a Rutgers University freshman died after an induction ceremony at the Lambda Chi house. At the order and command of his soon -to -be brothers, James Callahan, aged 18, drank so much liquor that he collapsed, according to Eileen Stevens, President of C.H.U.C.K. (Committee to Halt Useless College Killings) and the mother of eldest son Chuck Stenzel whom the committee is named; Chuck died horrifically at an Alfred University hazing, while pledging Klan Alpine. His death occurred on Tapping Night, the first day of pledging. Wrongs of Passage, (1-140). Alfred University later experienced the death of a Zeta Beta Tau member who committed suicide after his brothers beat him for revealing hazing secrets to another Zeta Beta Tau chapter at Syracuse University. Forty-Three deaths of this nature have occurred since 2003. Broken Pledges (1-140) this is a terrifyingly high price to pay for the maintenance of...
Cited: Wrongs of Passage by Hank Nuwer (1-140)1999
Broken Pledges by Hank Nuwer (1-40)2001
Inside Greek U: Fraternities, Sororities and the Pursuit of Pleasure, and Prestige by Alan D. Desantis 2007
National Study of Student Hazing by Professor Elizabeth Allan and Mary Madden from the University of Maine’s College of Education and Human Development, 2008
Center for the Study of College Fraternity, 2005
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