By Lena Katz (Correspondent)
In universities around the country, there have been numerous scandals surrounding hazing rituals, intended for group bonding, which have led to deaths of young pledge members of sororities and fraternities.
Social activities and groups are a large part of the college experience for many people. In order to foster the social atmosphere, most colleges nowadays, offer sororities and fraternities for freshmen to join.
In many of these fraternities and sororities, the group bonds with new members, by hazing them. Hazing is a phenomenon in which older members force new members to perform certain tasks to initiate themselves into the group.
Often, these rituals can be hazardous to a person’s health. These tasks can include walking outside naked, lifting heavy objects, or most commonly, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
Hazing stories have been circling the news lately. One news story that has caught media attention, is the story of a 19-year-old fraternity pledge named Timothy Piazza, who died while performing a hazing ritual at a Penn State fraternity.
When addressed with the topic of the boy’s death, the administrators of the university knew about what was happening in this fraternity. They seemed to be impartial on the case.
“It was only a matter of time before a death would occur during a hazing event, “according to Penn State administrators.
According to stophazing.org, more than half of college students involved in clubs, teams, and organizations experience hazing.
Florida State University has experienced a death, as well as an arrest recently, due to hazing in their sororities and fraternities. Because of these instances, the university has decided to get rid of all sororities and fraternities on their campus.
These two universities have experienced tragedy due to hazing. Other universities are taking action to prevent hazing in sororities as well. A member of a sorority at the University of Wisconsin has a strong opinion on the morality of hazing. “I do not think hazing should be allowed, because college students are still so immature, and it can endanger other students.”
When tasked with the question of alternatives to these hazing rituals established in many colleges nationwide, Ms Erin Regan, guidance counselor of Sharon High School, says there are other alternatives to hazing, such as new member education, which is ideal in this case rather than ceremonial hazing.
“…You don’t have to punish them, to make someone feel badly about themselves physically or emotionally in order to feel like they are bonded within a group. It can actually be a positive experience that everyone goes through, but then makes them feel bonded as part of the fraternity or sorority,” Ms Regan commented.
The norms in many colleges are changing when it comes to hazing. Ms Regan says “I think it has become a ritual, and like a rite of passage in fraternities and sororities and so it’s hard to break out of that cycle but I do think it’s changing and some universities and colleges are trying to break students of that unhealthy habit and that unhealthy initiation ritual.”
Colleges around the country are now attempting to do something to change their policies in terms of sorority and fraternity new member education, to hopefully put these stories of hazing death to an end.