It feels like a constant game of Russian Roulette when I refresh my Facebook and wait to see Greek letters splashed across the “Trending Topics” sidebar. Of course, just a few days ago there they were: Alpha Tau Omega at IU had been shut down after a video of them sexual assaulting and hazing had been released to the media. I was hurt and embarrassed – but unfortunately not surprised.
Hazing, by definition, is “humiliating and sometimes dangerous initiation rituals, especially as imposed on college students seeking membership to a fraternity or sorority.” To some people, hazing is ingrained in the very culture of sorority and fraternity life. The counter argument I see constantly is that it’s a tradition. Many see it as a right of passage into their sisterhood or brotherhood, but sometimes it doesn’t end that way. Since 2000, fifty-seven people have died from injuries received via hazing. These brothers and sisters never made it to their initiation. They never grew in love and respect to your organization because they never got to see the next day. This doesn’t change the opinions or actions of many, however. Hazing is still a big part of “going Greek” for some people. I cannot speak for others, but I will say three things about myself: I was not hazed, I will not haze, and I do not believe in hazing.
It might not sit well with everyone, I’m sure. Some people think I missed some huge landmark and keys of wisdom by not being hazed. Did I earn my letters? I absolutely did. I earned my letters the day my sisters considered me and knew I was worthy of becoming a part of their sisterhood. I won the right to my letters when I signed my bid card and pledged my loyalty and life to my sorority. I learned the ropes through a positive and uplifting new member development program. It was challenging, but never once did I feel humiliated or belittled by my sisters. To me, hazing is not brave. It’s not smart. And it sure as hell isn’t what our founders wanted from us.