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Hazing: Not Your Problem

Hazing, as a broader concept, is not wrong. There, I said it. While it is a heavily controversial issue at Penn State as well as across the country, one cannot simply say that “Hazing is wrong.” Under what is currently considered hazing by Penn State, and by Law, my mom hazed me for the first 18 years of my life.

The true problem with hazing at Penn State is no different than the problem with underage drinking. By over-regulating every possible thing Fraternities do, the University and the Borough have created a culture of distrust an dishonesty. The only way to truly curve either of these “problems” would be to change how people honestly feel about them. The truth is, nobody, even the University thinks that underage drinking is wrong, so that will never change. This new, zero-tolerance attitude has simply led Fraternities to put more effort into hiding their drinking activities and less effort into making sure they are safe.

Similarly, while it is more of a taboo topic, hazing is a cultural institution which is widely accepted. Sure, people will be politically correct by publicly denouncing it, but don’t think for a minute that those same administrators, CEOs and professors don’t go back to their undergraduate chapters and ask the current brothers if they still do _____ _____ & _____ hazing rituals. As an example of how much people don’t ACTUALLY care about hazing we just need to look at the United State’s electing of or even considering electing George W. Bush. When his fraternity was investigated for hazing in 1967, he did not deny rumors and claimed all the rituals were done in good fun and comradely. None of his opponents used this to question his character, most likely because they were all involved in similar activities and agreed.

For over a century, men (yes, men) who have decided to join Fraternities at PSU have been “hazed.” This includes cleaning houses, running to stores for brothers, doing simple physical activities such as pushups, and certain traditions unique to each fraternity. By making these harmless activities seem as though they are terrible torture, you are putting them in the same category as “knee-drops” and the “elephant walk.” Essentially this leads to more intense hazing, as worse hazing won’t draw a much worse punishment if the hazers are caught by authorities.

No one can honestly tell me that any student at Penn State, who plans on joining a fraternity, would not expect to be reasonably hazed. Yes, REASONABLY. I am not saying kids should be urinated on or anything like that, but by “paying their dues” to the fraternity, they are going through a right of passage that the rest of the brothers completed. No one forced them to join, or stops them from leaving.

I would also like to know what Roy Baker can do about this. He is choosing his battles the best he can. He makes rules but there is nothing HE can do to enforce them other than punishing those who get reported. Do you expect him to check up on every fraternity every night? He essential WAS hired as a PR specialist for Greek Life, which is an issue in itself. If class-action lawsuits for drinking or hazing against the University were not a possibility, his position would not exist.

Essentially, I do not believe someone who has never experienced hazing or simple pledging can comment on this issue based on rumors and things their friends have told them. They could not do a cost benefit analysis of intangibles which they do not have the means or experience to grasp. I have experienced hazing first hand, and would not trade my brotherhood for the world. I would never want to pledge again, but if I could go back in time knowing what I know, I would make the same decision.

Anyone interested always has the choice to join a club, join a “non-hazing” fraternity, or found their own fraternity to avoid a right of passage. That is their business, and our Fraternities are our business.

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