Sorority hazing is a scary thing, in part because girls don’t always realize that it’s happening until it’s too late. A lot of girls see what’s actually sorority hazing as just rites of passage and no big deal, especially if they see others going through it at the same time without complaining. But sorority hazing is actually a pretty huge deal.
When you’re just entering college, it can be a lonely experience–you’re away from home, your friends, and your family, and you’re adjusting to a new place. Sororities are a great way to make new friends and get accustomed to the college culture. But when sorority hazing is a price you have to pay to get in, it stops being worth it.
Hazing is in the news more now than ever following the death of Florida A&M student Robert Champion. A whopping 13 people were charged in his death, which was a result of being brutally beaten at the hands of his fellow marching band members on a trip following a performance at a rival school. Though it’s unclear whether or not the beating was a direct result of hazing or if Robert was targeted because he was gay, at the end of the day, he was beaten to death by bullies, because anyone who engages in violent and harmful hazing is just that: a bully. In fact, in many states, people who participate in hazing aren’t just bullies, but also criminals. In Florida, where Robert Champion died of internal bleeding, hazing is a felony.
Boston University recently suspended its Sigma Delta Tau sorority following some severe sorority hazing. The sorority coerced underage girls into binge drinking, leading two of the girls to be hospitalized.
Obviously, sorority hazing doesn’t happen in every sorority or to everyone–and at the end of the day, girls are ultimately responsible for their own behavior. But in situations when girls are just trying to fit in and adjust to a whole new life on their own, it can be hard to say no to someone who is in a position of power and influence and who has something you want. It’s even harder when the pack mentality of a sorority kicks in, because even girls at a higher level (who know what’s going on is wrong!) may be less likely to speak up for fear of facing the wrath of the group. When you’re totally outnumbered, as pledges often are in sorority hazing, it’s a very frightening and intimidating dynamic and may make girls less likely to do the right thing. Plus, you might also feel like a lesser person for not being able to handle it as strongly as someone else, right?
Here’s the tricky part: Why would you want to be a part of an organization that demeans and degrades you just to let you in? The ultimate goal of participating in clubs and groups is to boost your own confidence, and that likely isn’t going to happen if you have to get wasted (or worse) just to be let in.
If and when you’re pledging to a sorority, just try to remember why you’re doing it. Many sororities give back to the community, have buzzing (or buzzed, as the case may be) social lives and parties, and may even help keep your grades up in addition to building lifelong friendships. Many sororities are based on service, respect, and values, and those are great things. Those things are awesome. But if sorority hazing needs to go down just to get in, are those values really being upheld–and are you really sure those are the kinds of friends you want to have? I say no.
Have you ever been involved in sorority hazing? Do you think sorority hazing is wrong or not a big deal? Do you think hazing really is or should be a crime? Would you put up with sorority hazing if it meant you got into the coolest clique on campus? Tell us in the comments!