On March 6, 2007 on Miami University’s campus, the fraternity Phi Gamma Delta, also known as Fiji, hazed pledging students by dropping them off in the woods in the middle of the night. The pledges had no idea where they were dropped off at or how to get back to campus. As the night went on park rangers eventually found the disoriented students wandering in the woods. This resulted in the fraternity facing a suspension from the university for hazing charges (Milstead). Generally, people do not view hazing as a big deal mainly because stories like this are rarely publicized nationally.
With people not truly knowing about the issue, they end up misunderstanding it completely because they do not realize how much harm it can actually cause. Therefore, the question arises, should members of fraternities and sororities on Miami’s campus stop hazing throughout their chapters move towards other alternatives? This will be determined through the examination of the legal implications of hazing, costs to the chapter, effects on the chapter’s reputation, social problems with members, consequences to the hazer, and different options for hazing.
Currently, hazing regulations extend across the country as states adopt different laws that involve this issue. According to Ohio state law, “No person shall recklessly participate in the hazing of another” (Fierberg). Since it is considered a state law, any enforcement agency can prosecute a student for being involved in a hazing incident. For this reason, organizations should already avoid hazing completely just because of the chances of legal implications. In addition to Ohio state law, Miami University has their own policies that go more in depth into the law.
Miami University describes hazing as any actions by members of a group that are directed towards new individuals that may cause mental or physical harm to that person (“Miami University Hazing Prevention”). It explains that hazing can contribute to physical and mental harm, which describes how broad the negative effects can be. Furthermore, their definition is mainly referring to the fraternities and sororities on campus, as Greek life is predominately known for hazing at Miami.
For instance, their policies include the recognition of activities such as alcohol, paddling, creation of excessive fatigue, and psychological shock (“Miami University Hazing Prevention”). These activities listed show the extent of Miami’s hazing policies, which illustrates how important it is to follow their rules, so that negative consequences can be avoided. When fraternities and sororities do not abide by the laws and policies, the costs to the chapter can be devastating. For example, the sorority Delta Delta Delta received a hazing charge that resulted in a two-year suspension from Miami’s campus (Mckerjee).
This shows how much risk is involved when a fraternity or sorority hazes. Furthermore, once the chapter is allowed back on campus, they still have to take a lot of time to rebuild their chapter. In addition to suspensions, a chapter can be held liable for injuries or even deaths that result from hazing (“Consider the Issues”). The liability may even involve major lawsuits over the chapter, which usually result in major financial losses. For instance, a 19-year-old student at Cornell University died in a fraternity house due to excessive hazing (Skorton).
In this case, the chapter was held completely liable and was forced face many legal implications. Moreover, any prosecution on the chapter can potentially affect alumni and new member support (“Consider the Issues”). With less support, the credibility of the chapter starts to quickly decline. Physical effects to the person being hazed can also affect the chapter’s reputation and accountability. Hazing usually involves binge drinking of alcohol, which most likely occurs during activities like “case races” or “power hours” (“Hazing”).
Binge drinking can easily lead to alcohol poisoning, which can land a student in the hospital. As well as the pledge’s health status, this would also negatively affect the chapter’s reputation in the administrations eyes, which could adversely impact the chapter’s future. In addition, hazing can also cause exhaustion and sleep deprivation to the person being hazed (“Hazing”). These issues can affect the person’s schoolwork and performance in other activities. If a member’s grades drop, then the average GPA of the chapter will decrease.
This will quickly cause the chapter’s academic rank to decline. Furthermore, some hazing practices may inflict physical pain that can lead to accidental injury to the pledge (“Hazing”). Injury to a pledge from hazing can result in many liability issues to the chapter as well as a bad reputation from other students on campus. Many negative psychological effects on pledges also result from the act of hazing. These effects end up negatively affecting the chapter too. Mainly, hazing causes lots of stress to the pledges (“Hazing”).
The stress can affect schoolwork, relationships, and mental health, which can disturb the well-being of the chapter. This means that members may become extremely irritable with other members, which may cause social unrest throughout the chapter. Stress can also lead to depression, anxiety, and self-esteem issues for the pledge (“Hazing”). These disorders can harmfully affect the pledge’s mental state, which will negatively influence the relationships of members within the chapter.
In addition, once hazing ends, a pledge may have feelings of apathy toward the chapter because after hazing he or she may realize that the organization is not up to his or her expectations (“Hazing”). Feelings of apathy will cause a pledge to be less committed, which will hurt the chapter’s overall camaraderie. Additionally, after hazing, members may have feelings of resentment towards other members, which can create distrust throughout the whole chapter (“Consider the Issues”). Distrust among members will cause teamwork and team cohesion to diminish.
With undesirable effects to the person being hazed, the person doing the hazing may also be faced with other negative effects. First, hazing is extremely time consuming, so the hazer may not be able to efficiently complete other tasks (“Consider the Issues”). Loss of time may contribute to missed deadlines, loss of sleep, and added stress, which can affect the hazer’s own mental health. Furthermore, hazing may cause the hazer to feel lots of discomfort because hazing may not follow his or her own morals (“Consider the Issues”). For example, the hazer may be forced by another member to perform the hazing.
This puts the hazer in a terrible situation, which causes even more stress. In addition, a hazer risks getting in trouble with law because he or she is liable (“Consider the Issues”). This means that if a hazer is prosecuted then the charge will be put on his or her criminal record. Therefore, a prosecuted hazer may encounter issues with getting a job in the future. Even with all of the negatives, there is still opposition to the argument, but the opposition can be contested with more productive options for the chapter instead of hazing.
Some may say that hazing is part of the process of personal development, which involves improving self-identity and maturity (Skorton). This can be true in some instances, but there are other safer and more ethical ways to develop personally. For example, Sigma Phi Epsilon started a nationwide program that counters hazing. It is called the “Balanced Man Program” and its purpose is to replace traditional pledging with new ways that focus on community service as well as building as a person and a brother (Skorton).
This example shows how an alternative program can completely compensate for the traditional hazing process without any negative consequences. In addition, hazing is sometimes said to enhance team cohesion, but according to a comprehensive study, hazing is more apt to support less team cohesion (Van Raalte). This means that more hazing equals more unrest throughout the chapter. Team cohesion is truly based on the balance of costs and benefits, so hazing unbalances this idea (Van Raalte). It unbalances because besides hazing, fraternities and sororities already have other costs for the individuals.
These ways may include things such as time, money, and energy. Another benefit that is said to be accompanied with hazing is the feeling of acceptance throughout the organization (“Consider the Issues”). This can be accomplished through other more productive ways such as team building or team socials. These other ways can be more efficient as they give members more pride within the chapter. The general negative effects of hazing easily outweigh all of the positives, especially the legal consequences if the chapter is caught.
The legal consequences are related to all of the negatives of hazing, which means that all aspects of hazing can impact the sustainability of the chapter on campus. Therefore, hazing in fraternities and sororities is not even worth it because of the huge risks associated with it. Moreover, the examples of other alternatives to hazing show that hazing is not even logical. In addition, the success of other chapters, such as Sigma Phi Epsilon, using different ways for initiation shows that it is possible for a chapter to still be sufficient in the pledging process.
This just makes it clear that members of all chapters should stop hazing completely and instead use more productive methods to accomplish the positives that hazing is said to achieve. Work Cited “Consider the Issues. ” Hazing. Cornell University, 2011. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. . Fierberg, Douglas. “Educating to Eliminate Hazing. ” Stop Hazing. 2010. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. . “Hazing. ” Student Health Services. Washington University in St. Louis, 2011. Web. 18 Oct. 2011. < http://shs. wustl. edu/healthPromotion/hazing. html>. McKerjee, Natalie. “Delta Delta Delta Chapter Shuts Down for 2 Years. The Miami Student [Oxford] 20 Feb. 2009: 1. Print. “Miami University Hazing Prevention. ” www. units. muohio. edu. Miami University, 2011. Web. 12 Oct. 2011. . Milstead, Megan. ” Miami Suspends Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity until Fall Semester 2008. ” The Miami Student [Oxford] 17 Apr. 2007: 1. Print. Skorton, David J. “A Pledge to End Fraternity Hazing. ” New York Times 24 Aug. 2011: 23. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 12 Oct. 2011. Van Raalte, Judy L. “The Relationship Between Hazing and Team Cohesion. ” Journal of Sport Behavior 30. 4 (2007): 491-507. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 12 Oct. 2011.