A social problem: Fraternities & Hazing

Topics: Fraternities and sororities, Fraternity, University Pages: 5 (1521 words) Published: December 7, 2013

A social problem is qualified as a problem “if the public or some segment of the public perceive the condition as a problem, and it exists when there is certain objective condition and society define it problematic.” (Nasibov) An on-going social problem among universities across the country involves college fraternities and hazing. Hazing is an issue that consistently reemerges. A large percentage of hazing incidents result in serious injuries, or at times, death. Any event that causes death and despair so often when it could be prevented is a social problem. Hazing individuals is a problem within the community and universities, and therefore society. Each year, millions of young adults apply and attend college to pursue higher education. As they begin a new chapter in their lives, they are exposed to college fraternity/sorority parties, which lead some of these individuals to pledge to become a full-member. Unfortunately, most people have no idea what they are getting themselves into, and for some, it leads to death. This problem has been around for a long time and goes as far back as when colleges and fraternities began.

Fraternities have been around as long as colleges/universities have, dating back in the early 1600s. In order to be a part of a fraternity, one has to pledge, to prove himself worthy of the house “letters” and name. This is the cause of hazing. Vivian de Klerk from Rhodes University defines hazing in her article “Initiation, Hazing or Orientation?” as a “form of initiation imposed by the group on a newcomer that leads to harassment, abuse and humiliation.” (Klerk) Such actions include physical abuse, mental abuse, favors, drugs and alcohol. According to the University of Connecticut Greek Life Council, 82% of hazing deaths were alcohol related. (UConn Greek Council) Since 2005, 59 deaths involved college fraternities and hazing, and more than 50% of those deaths were alcohol related. There was an incident in 2012, at the Northern Illinois University involving a 19 year old pledge for the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity who was killed due to alcohol intoxication. His blood alcohol was well over .22, which is 3-4 times the blood alcohol content of legal limit.

Aside from alcohol, there have been other death incidents involving hazing on college campuses. A few years ago at the University of California, Irvine, a pledge of the Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity was killed during a pledge event where he and his pledge brothers had to play football against the entire active house. He was mulled to death during the game. Also, in the article “On Hazing” by Michael J. Cholbi, Matthew Carrington from the California State University of Chico was at a Chi Tau pledging event, he was later pronounced dead after consuming a large amount of water. (Cholbi) He died of cardiac dysrhythmia. These incidents are reflective of a social problem involving young adults. Parents send their children to attend universities in pursuit of their future careers, but these young adults are forced through dangerous, sometimes life-threatening events because of their choices to join fraternities/sororities.

University campuses do not condone hazing, in fact 44 states in the U.S. have anti-hazing laws. A small percentage of college students who decide to pledge are exposed to hazing rituals. But the impact of the few who lose their lives is tremendous. The college will eventually be held responsible, as well as the organization and it’s members. The family and friends of the deceased also face great agony and sorrow. Since 1970, there has been at least one hazing-related death on a college campus every year. With these incidents occurring on university grounds, it only takes one death to make it an issue. It raises awareness to other students about these organizations. Greek councils warn students about hazing, and those who are caught face severe consequences; fines, suspension, lawsuits, and the chapter’s charter can even be...
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