Supposed Benefits of Hazing—and How to Get Them without Hazing

Anthony Bennett

If you’re even reading this, chances are you belong to a Greek organization, one for which you have a great love and appreciation. That’s not an attitude that comes easily. It takes proper education and preparation so, at that moment where you cross the threshold from pledge to brother or sister, you can embrace the principles of your order as a unique and powerful force for good in your life and in the world at large.

Unfortunately, for some that involves senseless acts of servitude and humiliation with which Greek Life has become synonymous in the independent mind. If ever Greek Life is to shed its stereotypes and be in the minds of those who are not involved what it is to those who are, this must stop. Almost everyone in the Greek community recognizes this and are taking steps in that direction.

And yet, even as every national headquarters works to stamp out hazing, there are still some who defend their actions categorically, claiming certain benefits not achievable through more outwardly acceptable forms. This is a mindset that must be challenged from within the Greek community; we must openly examine these supposed justifications for seemingly inexcusable behavior, and discuss the alternatives.

1. Hazing weeds out the members who don’t “want it” badly enough, leaving only the best pledges.

This is probably the most common defense of hazing. If someone wants something enough, they will go through nearly anything to get it. The easiest way to determine if a pledge has a passion for the organization, therefore, is to put them through anything you can dream up, and see who stays. Alternative: Give them the passion. Promote the positives of your organization, and what your purpose as a fraternity or sorority is, with all the passion you expect of them. If they’re not into that, they’ll leave; what you’ll have left is a group wholly dedicated to your principles, including the ones who would have been turned away if you had tried to force the passion from them.

2. Hazing creates a sense of humility necessary for preserving the sanctity of your ritual.

Establishing yourself as an authority figure early and often will doubtlessly create an attitude of deference and obedience to you; when you get serious, they will. The temptation is visible: hazing will get them listening. But do you really want them listening out of fear? Alternative: Establish clear boundaries between what’s fun and serious, and expect strict observance of both the pledges and the members. If they’re serious about your organization, observance of your initiation ritual and the various pledgeship ones before it will take care of itself.

3. The sense of power created by hazing prevents apathy in the pledge process on the part of the members.

Believe it or not, I’ve actually heard this one. By forcing the pledges through a gauntlet of hazing practices, the older members get to have some fun, which will motivate them to remain in the more serious parts of the pledge process. Of course, there’s an easy and sensible alternative: Actually have fun with your pledges. If you want to call them your brothers or sisters, you should probably look into liking them; if you like them, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem finding something to do.

Anthony is a sophomore Sigma Chi formerly of Jacksonville University, currently applying to several institutions. He enjoys writing, the arts, and being a Sigma Chi. He is currently majoring in English with a focus on Film and plans to graduate in the Spring or Fall of 2009.

2 Responses to “Supposed Benefits of Hazing—and How to Get Them without Hazing”

  1. Tyler Says:

    Great article Anthony. This is a much needed article that was well thought through.

  2. melanie carroll Says:

    Thank you for your article about the realities of hazing.

    I work for The Gordie Foundation. We were formed following the death of Lynn Gordon Bailey, an 18 year old boy who died trying to join a Fraternity in Boulder, Colorado in 2004. Articles like yours help to make people aware that it is unacceptable to put anyone thru dangerous activities; this is called hazing. The laws in this country around hazing are still ambiguous but we are working hard in Gordie’s memory to make it clear that until real consequences are felt, this kind of dangerous activity will continue to happen. For more information about The Gordie Foundation, please see http://www.gordie.org.

    Many thanks for your article.

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