Six days ago, a breaking news story emerged from the Long Island, New York, that involved one of the worst recorded hazing incidents in a long time. Sigma Pi, a fraternity at Hofstra University, is currently under police and federal investigation for the use of intense pledging methods on the pledge classes of fall 2014 and fall 2015. They were forced to chug gallons of milk and vomit on each other, stay locked in small cages for hours, kneel blindfolded while their bodies and genitals were covered in hot sauce, and perform planks with bottle caps underneath their elbows. All of these events were considered “ritual” and occurred at an off-campus residence. For all of the readers who have no idea what in the world a pledge process even is, allow me to illustrate.
At the beginning of every school year, usually the second or third week in, an event called Rush Week occurs where all fraternities and sororities on campus come out and showcase themselves and their morals by holding certain events, such as barbecues, socials and team-building activities. People who attend these events are considered “rushing” that certain fraternity, and the more that person finds interest, the more events they will attend that week. If the fraternity itself enjoys that rusher’s company and thinks they have what it takes to become a part of the fraternity, they receive a “bid.” If you accept that bid, you are now a pledge for that fraternity, and you go through what is called a pledge process. You learn about the history of the fraternity, the brother as a whole and what it means to become an active member. You also are tested to see if you truly want to become a member. Pledge processes can last about eight to 16 weeks and have been known to carry a very mixed opinion from others.
According to HazingPrevention.org, a non-profit website dedicated to spreading awareness and decreasing the use of hazing in the U.S., says that “hazing is any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule and risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.”
The U.S. has started to crack down huge on the use of hazing, and it can not only get fraternities kicked off campus but also put under criminal investigation, depending on the gravity of the situation. The last recorded hazing death was back in 2014 when a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at the University of Albany was forced to drink massive amounts of vodka. He eventually died overnight with a recorded BAC of 0.58.
With so many faults, you would wonder why fraternities even haze in the first place. Some might say it “builds character” or that it “shows us who is really a man and who wants to be here.” But let’s be honest, that’s a load of shit to cover up for a kid with a 0.58 BAC. Even with the scenario at Hofstra, although none of those kids died, they still underwent some pretty graphic and intense methods of testing their manhood.
Fraternities even at Nevada have been in trouble for hazing, with such fraternities as Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Nu, Alpha Tau Omega and the sorority Pi Beta Phi, which even got kicked off campus. In order to bring awareness to hazing on campus, Alpha Tau Omega created the “Hazy the Bear” movement with the slogan “Only You Can Say No to Hazing,” and the movement caught fire all throughout campus.
So where do we draw the line? We draw the line at no hazing. Hazing is a method that does not build people up but rather tears them down and can seriously cause emotional and physical harm to the receiver of the hazing. It is true when they say only you can say no to hazing. If you could prevent the moral deprivation of another student, why wouldn’t you? It’s not only the right way to do things but also the only way to do things.