Just because hazing traditions in Greek fraternities and sororities in colleges have existed since 1838, this is NOT a good reason to continue these archaic and ritualistic activities today. Our freshmen students are enticed to endure disgusting, cruel, and even life-threatening dares to become pledges with the hope that they’ll be part of a social club where they’ll have a sense of belonging.
But wait – aren’t students going to college so they can explore academic fields and interpersonal relationships? Aren’t they driven to move out of their parents’ homes so they can be independent and do what they want to do in college?
Then why are these freshmen seeking the Greek life where they are forced to conform and lose all identity to pledge with a fraternity or sorority that dominates them? This mindset is designed to reinforce a hierarchy that ensures subservience of new pledges as they become acclimated to the organization. Interestingly, some members complain that they had more freedoms back when they lived at home.
During the past 2 years while college campuses were closed, hazing deaths completely stopped. But now that campuses are mostly opened, hazing has rebound in both men’s and women’s pledging rituals. Fraternities are notorious for forced consumption of alcohol, which has caused a fatality every year since 1959 (except in 2020-2021 due to the pandemic). Sororities engage in more emotional and psychological hazing, which doesn’t get the headlines that frats do.
Just last week, Baylor University announced sanctions against Pi Kappa Phi after a fraternity was found guilty of hazing pledges via sleep deprivation. This was just the tip of the iceberg. One student was confined to a cramped room and denied sleep for 48 hours. Then, he was forced to eat multiple cans of sardines, do calisthenics, and then forced to eat his vomit. This student was mentally and physically abused by the fraternity after he reported the incident to the Baylor Interfraternity Council, and he was encouraged to drop out for the semester because Baylor couldn’t keep him safe.
The Greek society seems like an antiquated institution that we should have left behind in the 20th Century. The “Freshman” experience should be all about meeting new people, exploring new cultures, and diving into career options.