Bullying doesn’t happen only in elementary school. Each spring and fall, thousands of college students experience the Greek system tradition known as hazing. If you want to be part of a fraternity or sorority, then it’s all but certain that you will be forced to do humiliating and even dangerous acts to become a member of one of these organizations. Students are oftentimes subjected to physical or sexual acts of violence. Alcohol also figures predominantly in the hazing ritual. Compelled to drink well beyond reason, pledges may require emergency medical care for elevated blood alcohol levels. In some cases, help comes too late, and the students die of alcohol poisoning. However, Massachusetts schools and universities are no longer turning a blind eye to these alarming activities.
If the topic of hazing comes up, most people tend to think of fraternities. However, when taking a closer look at the issue, it becomes evident that sororities are just as capable of inflicting horrible atrocities against their prospective members. Fraternities and sororities alike assault their pledges with violence. This can be done in a number of ways, but the ubiquitous Greek paddle is many times used to beat pledges into submission. For the men, it’s a test of physical and mental strength.
For the women, these tactics are implemented to humiliate the pledge. In fact, this aspect of sorority hazing has become a calling card of sorts. Whereas fraternities typically focus on physical trauma, sororities prefer to inflict emotional pain upon their pledges. For example, potential members will be lined up and forced to strip down to only their undergarments. They then are subjected to a very public analysis of their bodies where women are rated regarding breast size or how “fat” they are. In some cases, Sharpie pens are used to mark deficient areas of their arms, legs and stomachs.
Other times, a pledge may be presented with two equally horrifying acts such as snorting cocaine or engaging in self-stimulation with a sexual device, then forced to carry out her choice in front of the rest of the group. Sorority members claim that these demeaning activities are done in the name of camaraderie and group bonding; however, what it actually constitutes is sexual and emotional abuse.
Massachusetts schools and universities are now beginning to understand just how detrimental hazing can be to the welfare of their students. While it may be more difficult to detect and punish sororities for acts of emotional trauma, colleges can do something about the physical violence toward Greek pledges. Boston University recently made an example of a sorority who forced their members to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol and subsequently required hospitalization. The sorority, as well as some of its individual members, was suspended for these actions. With any hope, both fraternities and sororities will continue to be held responsible for their conduct, and hazing will one day be permanently eliminated from Greek life. If you want to be part of a fraternity or sorority, it should never be at the expense of your dignity, or worse, your life.
By: Anna Keizer