I tend to feel homesick, especially during the holidays. Living on the opposite side of the world means that the journey home is long, expensive, and not worth going through for short breaks like Thanksgiving. I wanted to join a sorority to have a home away from home. I wanted to be around like-minded individuals who would create a support system for me when I needed one. I joined one because I genuinely believe in the concept of people encouraging each other and raising awareness and money for social causes.
Almost everything in modern life is stigmatized, and Greek life is no exception. I love pop culture so it saddens me when I see movies and TV shows about Greek life glorifying things like hazing in exchange for acceptance into a community of excessive alcohol and sex driven parties. I will not deny that Greek life, like many other college-campus groups- from sports teams to theater casts- throw parties. Parties with alcohol, drugs, and sex will be a part of your college experience, if you choose to make it so. That being said, hazing should never be a part of that.
I have done my research on hazing, but I’m not here to give you a lecture on how it is terrible and results in death and injury. I’m going to argue the principle of hazing, the very idea of it, and not substantiate my case with multiple accounts of it being physical and mental abuse because the basic ideology of hazing needs to be discredited.
Many say hazing is a rite of passage or a form of tradition that weeds out the serious members from the ones who aren’t. People who believe in hazing say that if a member is able to get through the process he/she displays commitment and loyalty to the Greek organization. It is said to create a bond of sister/brotherhood among a pledge class because one that faces adversity together has a closer friendship and better knowledge of the other members. Hazing is also believed to establish secrecy and a pattern of not snitching on your fellow members, thereby avoiding run-ins with campus authorities. Some members being hazed also enjoy the activities, hold a sense of accomplishment when successfully completing a task, and truly feel like they’re earning their place in the organization because they believe that being a member is a privilege, not a right. Simply put, hazing is supposed to bring the entire organization, specifically a pledge class, together in a manner that is amusing for older members who have, for lack of a better term, already paid their dues.
While I agree that people who face adversity do develop a strong bond, a Greek organization can find much better ways to do all of the above without making their new members feel uncomfortable, inconvenienced, or pressured. It is inconsiderate of new members’ time to require them to be in random locations at odd times in a day. It is disrespectful to make your new brothers and sisters feel terrible about their appearances or behavior and then demand that they fit into a mold. It is humiliating for members to be openly ostracized for not participating in binge drinking or sending nude photos. This is not how family treats each other and I say family because Greek life calls itself just that.
To those arguing that hazing fosters loyalty- how about establishing a brother/sisterhood that inspires members to be devoted of their own accord? For those who argue that hazing ensures secrecy- how about engaging members in bonding activities that create confidantes from personal initiation? For those who say that hazing sorts out the serious from the flaky or the committed from the uncommitted- why extend invitations to people who you believe do not already live up to your standards of philanthropy and community? For those who think that hazing brings the chapter closer in terms of friendship and forces members to get to know each other better- why not have people who truly want to be there and be familiar with fellow members, regardless of adversity? Finally, for everyone who believes that hazing is a ritual, rite of passage, or tradition- just because something has always happened and past members have always done it, doesn’t make it right or required for new members- especially if it is not something they would do unprovoked or as a personal decision. You do not have to haze new members because you’ve been hazed or because that’s just how things have always been or because it is funny. Sisters and brothers do not mistreat each other. Hazing is mistreatment, and if you don’t believe that then you have no place in a brother/sisterhood.
For members who believe that they need to earn their letters- once you accept a bid, you do not have to prove that you are worthy of being a brother or sister. Rushing is a mutual selection process- you have to agree to join a sorority/fraternity as much as it wants you to join. Both new members and the entire chapter are equal in the power dynamic. Wanting to join a social organization of men and women should be reason enough to be accepted into that group. If you’re willing to put in an effort for and attend philanthropy events and pay your dues, you’re as much a member of your chapter as anyone else in it. Lastly, if you treat other members with respect you have earned your place in a society at large, not just in a sorority or fraternity. To borrow from Rachel in “Friends,” “It’s not that common, it doesn’t happen to every guy [or girl], and it is a big deal.”