Fraternity Hazing Is Deadly Essay

This essay has a total of 2177 words and 8 pages.

Fraternity Hazing Is Deadly

Hazing (subjecting newcomers to abusive or humiliating tricks and ridicule) has always
been seen as a secretive campus activity when it comes to fraternities and pledging. As a
result, Dr. Mark Taff resorted in his article that, "..a series of 168 cases of injuries
and deaths related to fraternity hazing activities...[occurred] in the United States
between 1923 and 1982" (2113). Young college men are being hospitalized and even worse,
dying, just for a couple of friends that give them a sense of belonging. 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. It will probably take years
before hazing perishes from the fraternity scene. Nevertheless, until an end is put to
hazing, solutions can be used to make hazing less common, until it no longer exists. These
solutions that may be able to put an eventual stop to hazing, in the long run, are better
education about fraternity hazing, stricter laws to prevent hazing from occurring, and
more intervention from college administrators.


Stories of hazing incidents are all too common in the news media today. It would not be
out of the ordinary, upon opening the newspaper, to read the testimony of some fraternity
pledges "'We were taken to a deserted park and blindfolded...We sat on our knees for an
hour. Then they began slapping us on the back of our necks, real hard, and then they
started pouring hot wax down our back'" (Milloy CL). Also, an article stating that "...A
sophomore at Alfred University in New York was locked in a car trunk with two others and
told to drink a bottle of Jack Daniel's, wine and a six-pack of beer, one wintry night in
1978. He died of alcohol poisoning and exposure" (O'Connor 32). Fraternities are getting
away with hazing practices, every single day. If a stranger did this to a civilian, they
would automatically be arrested and imprisoned.


The humiliations of hazing are said to build bonds between pledges and fraternity
brothers. According to fraternity beliefs, the theory goes, if you and a couple of friends
go through fraternity initiations, drinking excessive amounts of beer and being beaten by
fraternity members etc., and only you and your friends go through it, then this gives you
all something in common. An example of a hazing victim is typically a white male 19 to 20
years of age, who is experiencing some types of injuries between the months of February
and April or September and October (the pledging seasons). Men are experiencing injuries
including those caused by "blunt force (beatings, paddling, motor vehicle crashes,
pedestrian accidents, and falls from height), cold exposure, heat exhaustion, gunshot,
asphyxia, electrocution, cannon and beer-keg explosions,..." (Taff 2113), just to name a
few. These supposedly bring the fraternity "together." Hazing also occurs in both
sororities and black fraternities (which are seen differently from regular fraternities),
but it is not as severe in sororities as it is in fraternities.


One cause of hazing is that fraternity members do not want to change tradition. Hazing has
been a part of fraternity initiations ever since fraternities were founded. Hazing was
used to test the pledges that wanted to join the fraternity, to make sure that the pledge
was "fraternity material." According to one pledge, fraternity members have "'a feeling
that if I went through it, you should too...So as long as there are people in the
fraternity who were beaten, they feel they have a right to beat you'" (Milloy C10). If
fraternity members think this way then how can hazing be prevented so that innocent men do
not die just for friends and a "feeling of belonging."


A second cause of hazing is that since college campuses are so big in population, men
believe that in order to make friends and "fit in," they have to subject themselves to
ridicule and torture by joining a fraternity. Not many men would do this for a group of
friends, but it is happening every semester in college campuses today. Not only are
college men being hospitalized but many are putting their lives on the line, and even
dying, just so they can be considered a "brother" in a fraternity. Nevertheless, it is not
the pledge's fault, in getting himself into this type of situation.


A third cause of hazing is that the fraternities know exactly what they are doing and they
know what they can get away with most of it, since college administrators are not doing
anything to prevent hazing. The events that happen in the fraternity world are largely
secretive, some even go "underground," just so they do not get caught. This should tell
college administrators that the fraternities are trying to hide something, and that
something is illegal and wrongful. Many fraternities require their members to take a vow
of secrecy and "to expose criminal behavior by a frat brother, for example, is referred to
within the fraternity as 'catting' an offense punishable by even more severe beatings"
(Milloy C1). Universities are blind when it comes to fraternity hazing. As stated in the
book, "Broken Pledges," by Eileen Steven, "when administrators have a limited definition
of hazing, deaths and injuries will continue to go unrecorded..." (Nuwer 27).


Hazing has been a part of fraternities in the Unites States since 1830. Although warnings
about the dangers of fraternity hazing were addressed in the 1980s with anti-hazing laws
in some states, and punishments against such activities, the practice of hazing still
exists in college campuses today. The causes of hazing, a need of wanting to fit in by the
students, no interest from college administrators and the fraternities unwillingness to
break tradition, are all making incidents all too common in campuses today. If only there
was a way to join a fraternity, without giving away your life in return. Hazing can be
stopped if three major solutions are exercised by fraternities and the colleges that they
are at. These solutions are better education about fraternity hazing, stricter laws to
prevent hazing from occurring, and more intervention from college administrators. Hazing
will continue to exist if college fraternities allow it to. One solution that will make
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