The Haze Craze
Many organizations implement hazing practices before accepting new members, but what exactly does that mean? I was hoping you’d ask…
Hazing is any ritual or behavior that is forced upon new members in order for them to be fully accepted or initiated into a group. Hazing includes any kind of humiliating, dangerous, or strenuously physical tasks that often entail harassment and abuse of individuals. It also includes depriving new members of certain things or requiring them to do certain things that others are allowed or excused from. Hazing can be as seemingly harmless as having initiates wear strange clothing, or as hazardous as coerced sexual behavior or consumption of copious amounts of alcohol or drugs, and anything in between.
Sororities and fraternities are most notorious for hazing their pledges, but several other groups are known for similar initiation rituals: sports teams, various clubs, workplaces, and even the military and police forces. Hazing is by no means limited to college culture. It happens in high schools and even in the professional world.
An important fact that is often ignored (overlooked) is that hazing is illegal in over 40 states, and specific laws vary upon location. So if you’re ever unsure about the legality of an instance of hazing, look it up (For more information: http://www.stophazing.org/laws.html). Ideally, hazing conduct of any kind should be reported, but even if you don’t, remember that no group can force you to do something that you don’t want to do- especially if it poses a threat to your health or well-being.
Now, I hope I didn’t totally scare you away from student involvement in activities because that’s a beautiful thing. But if you encounter a hazing situation, just ask yourself: Is being able to call yourself a member of this group worth risking your safety, dignity and in extreme cases, your life? It’s up to you.