Hazing is defended as an initiation period that will create a sense of bond. If you must suffer to join, you will appreciate the organization more. I beg to differ. Hazing is usually entrusted to individuals who seem to neither appreciate the goals of an organization, nor understand that their acts will have long-lasting effects. This is not about the people who die during hazing rituals, although that points to the ultimate failure of this concept. It’s about putting a positive focus on this so called “initiation process.”
Instead of forcing people to do things both demeaning and negative, why not take a positive approach. I witnessed a college roommate going through the process while pledging a fraternity. I saw it again with great pain as my son decided to do the same while he was in college. What he shared with me still makes me bristle.
Wake up! Why can’t you make hazing a positive activity?
Why can’t this ‘initiation” be about working in a food kitchen, rebuilding a playground, helping elderly citizens and fixing things around their house, or collecting and distributing food at food banks? Why can’t real challenges be a part of this process that are positive and insightful, rather than capricious and vicious?
But noooooo! You want them to scrub stuff with toothbrushes, live in a basement in the dark for a day, punch each other, starve for two days, and play slave to individuals who will never be your true friends for the simple reason you will never forgive their abuse.
Why can’t this “Hell week” become a “Work week?” Why does hazing have to be so belittling and demeaning?
You want to feel small and demeaned? Help some street-people. They’ll tell you all about it.
You want to feel fear? Spend some time with veterans at a VA hospital who have no one left to visit them, or orphans, terminally ill patients, something – anything that challenges an individual in a way that allows them to grow rather than feel diminished.
As for college fraternities and sororities, you are the worst! You simply pass along the abuse you endured to the next bunch of pledges. It’s no wonder the fraternity and sorority system is in demise at many colleges and universities. Some have made progress, for most it’s business as usual and the usual and casual cautions from school administrators.
I offer a challenge: Keep your “initiation week,” but make it a week that challenges all of you. Find something in your community or your neighborhood that awakens all of you and makes you all feel a renewed commitment to your organization. If you truly want people to bond it should be a positive bond that is shared. If you fail to do that, your decline is both inevitable and welcome by all who have endured your mistakes, and the bad judgment of your past.