This clip from the movie “Old School” shows how unrecognized the issue of hazing is. We watch people experience hazing on TV, in movies, and even in our own lives. Hazing is such a significant issue that needs to be addressed because it damages people’s lives physically as well as emotionally. However, the issue is laughed off. In the media hazing is used to provide entertainment and to make people laugh. Like in this scene from Old School. They made the scene comical, which ultimately shapes our views on the issue. They present it as funny, so we perceive it as funny (as long as it’s not happening to ourselves). We watch it as if it’s something comical, but in reality it’s something so much more than that. Hazing damages lives and the issue needs to be dealt with.
You walk into the sorority house. “Take off your clothes,” she said. “Sit on the dryer machine,” she said. You glance over and see her grab a permanent marker. As you sit there she screams at you, circling the specific places on your body that she claims you need to lose weight in. She calls you fat, and she sees your flaws. You feel defeated, you feel vulnerable. This hazing incident is not a rumor, but a true story of a friend’s experience. This experience still resonates with her and it is shown when she tears up as she discusses the incident. Adolescents are vulnerable and hazing takes advantage of these vulnerabilities for the purpose of entertainment and tradition. Hazing damages the mental state of those who experience it. Many people struggle with psychological issues and hazing reinforces those insecurities. Hazing causes self-doubt and low self-esteem and it contributes to depression and eating disorders. Wouldn’t you feel bad about yourself if your so-called “friends” yelled at you and called you fat? Wouldn’t you have psychological issues? It damages our emotions and this can cause serious issues in the future. We put people down for our own benefits, but we don’t consider the damage it has on other people. We want to call these people our sisters, our brothers, and our best friends, but how can we when they torture us in the process of becoming their friends?
55% of college students involved in clubs, teams and organizations experience hazing (Allan & Madden). I can imagine most of you have sympathy towards people and their families who are damaged by hazing. I can also imagine most of you don’t believe it can actually happen to you. As of February 12, 2010 there were 96 recorded hazing related deaths in fraternities and sororities, and the number is only growing (Allan & Madden). There is no telling what can happen in the future. One day you might be running around your college campus in your underwear. Another day you might be told to drink until you vomit. The days vary, but all it takes is one small mistake and your life can vanish right before your eyes. We all think the bad things in life can’t happen to us until they do. Most people go through life with this idealistic mentality. But there is always a risk that you could be that one member who just cannot make it. Do you want to risk the consequences? Many of you are probably thinking, “I went through hazing and I’m fine.” Well what about the kids who couldn’t make it through hazing like George Desdunes. What about the people who are affected by hazing and carry these haunting memories with them for the rest of their lives? We can risk our own lives, but is it really fair to risk other people’s lives? While it may not happen to you, it can happen to your brothers and sisters, your cousins, your best friends and your other peers. The next time you are hazing a pledge, think about what could happen if they were to drink too much or could not handle the tasks they were required to do. Consider the consequences of their lives and imagine how you would feel if you were responsible for their death.
Andrew Lohse tells his story of pledging Sigma Alpha Epsilon at Dartmouth, “I was a member of a fraternity that asked pledges, in order to become a brother, to: swim in a kiddie pool full of vomit, urine, fecal matter, semen and rotten food products; eat omelets made of vomit; chug cups of vinegar, which in one case caused a pledge to vomit bood; drink beers poured down fellow pledges’ ass cracks; and vomit on other pledges, among other abuses.”
It’s pitch black, you are on your knees, and both your ankles and wrists are tied together. You are confused and have no idea where you are. You can smell the alcohol in the air and hear the commotion in the background. You don’t know what to expect, but you do know it won’t be fun. You have now put yourself in the place of George Desdunes. George Desdunes was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon frat at Cornell University and he was hazed to death in February 2011. George was an average student, and like most, he probably never thought his life would end so short. But just a couple hours of hazing ended his life completely. His ankles and wrists were shackled together while his fellow brothers forced alcohol down his throat. After consuming an excessive amount of alcohol, he passed out. Several brothers carried him to the library in the house and left him lying on a couch. His brothers tilted his head so he would not choke on his own vomit, and left him there to perish. How could they call him their brother when they just left him there to die? Why do we want to call these people our friends when we must destroy ourselves in the process? Belonging to a group can create such great and beneficial feelings. So then why do we go through such brutal rituals that cause such damaging feelings to get there?
“You can’t sit with us.” When you hear this statement what do you think of? Let me guess, Mean Girls. Most adolescents in America can recognize this quote. However, what most people don’t realize is how strong of an impact this quote can have on adolescents. According to Elizabeth Allan, Ph.D and Mary Madden, Ph.D, 9/10 students who have experienced hazing in college do not consider themselves to have been hazed. Mean Girls demonstrates a perfect example of high school hazing. And instead of recognizing the negative effect hazing has in the movie, teens quote it on a daily basis. Fact, “1.5 million high school students are hazed every year and 47% of students go into college already having experienced hazing” (Allan, Ph.D, Madden, Ph.D). Hazing is a common trend that many people now associate with severe injuries and even death. In the past year there have been at least two recorded deaths from hazing. Many people find hazing to be amusing, but do they really consider the consequences of their actions?