The process of pledging a fraternity or sorority works in cycles. When you’re a bright-eyed freshman, eager to join your organization of choice, you’ll bear your due tasks and punishments in order to be inducted into membership. Once you’ve endured your fair share of pre-induction requirements, you’re charged with keeping the tradition alive for all of those who follow you.
So the question becomes, when hazing has essentially turned into a perpetuated cycle, when does it stop?
In recent weeks, members of the Zeta Iota chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity faced allegations of hazing. According to the police charges brought up last week, pledges were hit with closed fists, and 11 members of the fraternity have been taken into police custody.
Though these particular allegations suggest an extreme instance of hazing, it only took one person to put a stop to it. The accusation was reported to the Greek Life Office by an anonymous source, and police were immediately notified. And this individual has done more than start an investigation of the fraternity — he or she has also renewed the campus-wide dialogue on the dangers of hazing.
According to a statement from UGA Student Affairs, “Hazing, as defined in University’s Code of Conduct, is totally unacceptable in any form and is strictly prohibited.” The definition given in the code of conduct can include any number of things, not limited to physical instances. It includes any “situation that causes another pain, embarrassment, ridicule or harassment.”
While these particular allegations involve physical abuse by senior members of the fraternity, not all incidents of hazing are so severe. New members of an organization may be forced to wear embarrassing costumes to events or required to run errands for established members.
Regardless of the nature of hazing, someone needs to be the first member or bystander to make a decision to not be a part of such an unnecessarily brutal system. It becomes the responsibility of those who witness these events to report them, or for those asked to take part, to abstain. Too many individuals leave this task to others, and so the cycle is allowed to continue.
—Ben Dell’Orto for the editorial board