Hazing can’t be taken lightly anymore

A barrage of hazing horror stories began with the death of George Desdunes, a Cornell University sophomore who was reportedly forced to drink so much alcohol that his blood alcohol content reached the level of .409.

Then came Robert Champion, a Florida A&M student who died after being violently hazed by his fellow band members.

These young men are just two of the countless college students who are bullied into submission — and sometimes even death — to gain the respect and trust of their peers.

Rita Yeung | Daily Trojan

Some organizations might call it bonding, but to the rest of the world, it’s hazing.

Rolling Stone magazine recently ran an eight-page spread detailing the hazing activities of fraternities and sororities at Dartmouth University.

Andrew Lohse, a student and former fraternity member, decided to speak publicly about his experiences, incurring the wrath of many of his fraternity brothers.

In the article, Lohse discussed how he and his pledge brothers were forced to eat “vomlets” — you fill in the blank — and swim in kiddie pools filled with urine, sperm, vomit and feces, not to mention all-night drinking binges and activities involving kidnapping.

Lohse’s story is not an isolated incident. It’s playing out across the country. Too many of our nation’s universities and colleges are guilty of some form of hazing.

When we think of hazing, the worst possibilities come to mind. In fact, a common misconception is that hazing only counts when it involves physical harm.

Hazing is better defined as forcing anyone to do anything that they are not comfortable doing in the name of fitting in with the group.

Many of us forget the emotional scars that uncomfortable activity can brand us with.

Less significant incidents, such as midnight workouts or naked runs, might seem harmless and funny.

Unfortunately, if we don’t live by a zero-tolerance policy on hazing, then the more dangerous activities will continue unabated.

USC hasn’t had a hazing-related death in recent memory. The administration does a relatively good job of policing the school’s organizations.

Nevertheless, many instances at USC could be considered hazing.

Whether it’s in a frat during the bi-annual “Hell Week” or initiation into any other student organization, in order to be “in” you have to go through such rituals.

This vicious cycle will continue until colleges, including USC, attempt to put an end to it.

As a member of the Greek community, I hope that one day such instances of hazing are rendered nonexistent.

To get to that point, we need to stop giving slaps on the wrists and enforce punishments on those who harm others.

The university should take a stronger hand in educating students going through recruitment, so that they can more easily distinguish between what’s acceptable and what’s inexcusable.

A brotherhood, sisterhood, band or club is no excuse for physical or emotional harm. True bonding is an act of support, friendship and love. Students should be able to have friends that don’t abuse them as part of the “system.”

George Desdunes and Robert Champion got lost in this same abusive system. Because so few people speak out about it, their parents had to plan their funerals before they got to see them graduate.

We must take action before a tragedy occurs, before a Trojan is a victim of a prank gone wrong.


Sheridan Watson is a sophomore majoring in cinematic arts-critical studies. 

7 replies
  1. AIR
    AIR says:

    If the government takes my money I do want issues addressed and it does not include helping me to raise children to become strong through hazing. There is so much AIR blown when young adults cannot find a new meaning in this century to value what it takes to become real men and women. God Bless the child who has a parent who thinks they are independently strong because they have parental support with hazing. Try surviving and being great with out hazing, I know it’s not easy, but many people do it every day.

  2. Teena
    Teena says:

    I think the other side of the issue to consider is the belief that these young people have that in order to belong to a group they must endure dangerous, degrading activities, especially when these activities have no connection to the purpose or mission of the organization. What leads students in junior high to believe that in order to be part of the team (whatever team that may be) they must somehow be ridiculed or physically/mentally/emotionally assaulted and that if they don’t successfully “endure” that process, they are not “worthy” or “accepted”? How can we teach them self acceptance and self worth so that they don’t feel as though they must “endure” in order to be respected?

    I think telling people to “man up” without defining the right way to do that is how hazing is propagated in the first place. While I can agree with the sentiment that we are “coddling” the younger generations more so than in the past, members of those generations are actually searching for an arena in which to “man up” and prove themselves (women are not excluded from this). In the past, “manning up” meant doing hard work for the right reason. Have we somehow lost that definition? How can we teach our young men and women how to prove themselves by doing hard work for the RIGHT reasons, instead of some silly activity that doesn’t provide value to the world?

  3. Rich
    Rich says:

    Man…of we have your way…Our young adults will not know how to work or sacrifice for anything. Your winey article is and example of what’s crushing this country. We are telling our young adults “you shouldn’t have to endure any kind of activity that is uncomfortable to join a group or organization. We forget these people are adults…no one can MAKE anyone drink or do something they don’t want to do. That would be a choice of the individual. We are taking away the premise of individual responsibility, and allowing blame of everyone and everything else instead of holding a person responsible for THEIR INDIVIDUAL choice. If a fraternity member physically forces a pledge to do something, that is assault by law, and it is up to the INDIVDUAL to make the choice to press charges, or not to. Depends on what their priority is, joining a club or fraternity, or charging someone with a crime. I went through certain hazing with the armed forces, then a fraternity, so when it came to the same activity for football, I said no, because I felt I had done enough of that type of activity already. We also have to acknowledge that the pledges KNOW what’s coming their way when joining a fraternity, and by pledging, are making a CONCIOUS decision to be involved with that type of activity. You might want to be treated like a little helpless child with mental toughness, but I don’t, as I am raising my kids the same way. Brotherhood is a valuable thing, and should be earned. Parents need to raise their kids to be tough, and be able to defend themselves both physically, and mentally. They should be able to say know when they have reached their limits like I did, and like I have seen many others do. Stop with the wining and depending on govt to protect you from everything.

    • AIR
      AIR says:

      If the government takes my money, I always want issues addressed (don’t sit on my money). God bless the child who has a parent who believes hazing makes a person stronger. It is really very sad when in this century we have so much available to us by using our intelligence we choose to focus only on the physical destruction. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to understand how to become a real man or woman with out hazing. If you think hazing helps you to become a strong person, try maturing with out it, not easy, many have become very strong individuals with the absence of hazing.

  4. cbr79
    cbr79 says:

    It hasn’t been been proven that the Cornell student “was forced to drink so much alcohol that his blood alcohol content reached the level of .409.”

    There are allegations that the fraternity brother had consumed considerable alcohol before he was “kidnapped” by the pledges.

    Hazing is stupid and masochistic and does nothing to make a person a better fraternity member. They’re the most fundamental reasons to get rid of it.

  5. man up
    man up says:

    I don’t know how many times this needs to be said, but MAN UP. The woosification of American society nowadays is pitiful. That is the essence of hazing – man up. Overcome the physical, mental, and emotional stresses placed upon you and become a stronger and tougher person.

    That being said, there is no excuse for disgusting, degrading acts against another human being. These acts have no purpose and are destructive. There is a clear line, don’t cross it.

Comments are closed.