The hazing that was done in National Lampoon’s Animal House gave many of us a lot of laughs with John Belushi’s antics and the portrayal of a wild and fun college life. While fraternities and sororities undoubtedly have their benefits, both to the students and the community work they participate in, they also have a dark side.
Hazing refers to any act that needs to be performed in order to join or participate in a group which is degrading or humiliating. The behaviors associated with hazing existed long before Animal House but the extreme nature of this rite of passage is becoming more dangerous and humiliating for students. The National Study of Student Hazing performed a survey of 11,000 students across 53 campuses nationwide and found that more than half of college students experience hazing from the organizations they’re involved in. The activities they participated in ranged from drinking games to performing sexual acts, and all of the behaviors can be considered embarrassing, uncomfortable, or even dangerous.
What used to be fodder for comedic movies is now a serious college issue that campuses have needed to take a strict stance against. At this time, 44 out of 50 states have anti-hazing laws, but it doesn’t necessarily stop hazing from happening within sorority and fraternity walls. One reason is that students that want to be a part of a Greek organization, want to fit in and go along with the practices. Hazing is almost always done out of view of the administrators of the college and therefore goes virtually unnoticed and unreported until something deadly happens.
There are also many hazing cases where the pledge has been hurt or needs medical attention, but those around him or her do not call authorities as it may implicate them in the illegal activities. This was certainly the case in February 2017 when 19-year-old Tim Piazza fell down a flight of stairs during a pledge party at the fraternity he was vying to enter. Instead of calling the police, students instead put him on the couch so he could sleep off his intoxication. Twelve hours later the ambulance was called, but it was far too late for Tim as the injuries from the fall were serious. This is just one example of hazing gone awry and causing the death of a young student.
One of the ways people believe this can be stopped is by eliminating Greek organizations in colleges altogether. This was certainly considered by Dartmouth after a hazing incident occurred on campus, but underground fraternity hazing can be just as prevalent and just as dangerous. Additionally, removing fraternities and sororities would also remove all of the good that is done every year by these organizations, both in the local community and world at large. Some colleges have banned pledging altogether calling those who accept a bid from a local chapter a collegiate member instead of a pledge.