If someone asked you to define hazing on your first day of college, would you have been able to? I don’t think I could’ve. As my college years passed and my Greek experience grew, I learned more about the definition and the consequences. According to StopHazing.org, hazing is defined as:
“Any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.”
This is just one of many different definitions that vary based on organization, state, or severity. Hazing is not an issue just for Greeks, but for sports teams, military, employees, and practically another other group. Take a close look at professional sports teams and you will probably see it on national television! Yet, hazing can still be difficult to pinpoint because what may be humiliating to one person, may not be to another. Maybe new members are put in a dangerous situation, but luckily no one gets hurt so the behavior continues to go unnoticed and undisciplined. However, this does not make it okay.
So, what if you’re not sure if an activity is hazing? Well, if you are questioning it- then there is a good chance there is something wrong. I was once speaking with a woman who wanted to join a sorority. She was asking me questions about sorority life in general then narrowed in on hazing. She told me about a chapter she was considering joining and how she had asked a member of that chapter if they hazed. The member replied, “its not that bad.” Even though I wanted to jump up and down waving red flags and tell this woman to run for the hills, I simply said, “if she says ‘its not that bad’, what does that tell you?” Ultimately, my friend opted for a different chapter. Trust your gut, and don’t ignore the red flags. Ask yourself if this is something could potentially endanger someone, if it is illegal, or if you could get in trouble if administration found out.
There are thousands of excuses that people come up with to justify hazing, but at the end of the day- hazing goes against the basic premise of Greek life. Greek life is about building strong relationships, trust, loyalty, and having a support system. If one of my sisters purposely tried to embarrass or endanger me, that would lessen my trust in her, not build it. Creating a community where new members feel safe and comfortable will ultimately benefit the group as a whole.
Check back for more facts, tips and discussions about preventing hazing throughout the entire week! Happy Hazing Prevention Week!
To report hazing, contact school administration and/or the national anti-hazing hotline at 1-800-NOT-HAZE (1-800-668-4293).