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.
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.