Hazing News

Article on Duke University offers unusually good opportunity for discussion

From the article:

Girls also hire strippers to dance at their birthday parties or other events — one sorority hires a stripper ”in a tie-dyed thong and a flabby stomach” every year as part of its annual initiation rites.


The most exclusive Delta Sig party, where girls are concerned, is ”World War III.” It’s a rushing event, held every January at one of the fraternity’s off-campus houses or apartments, to which the choice women of Duke come, attired as skimpily as possible, on instructions to ”haze” the fraternity’s freshman pledges.

Naomi and Anna were both invited to this year’s World War III, which they were thrilled about, they say, despite a few reservations about what allegedly goes on. The goal, for the men of Delta Sig, is to get their would-be pledges as wasted as possible, by having the thirty or so women in attendance douse them in massive amounts of alcohol, and then encourage them, in various suggestive and often sexual ways, to pledge.

”We were like, yes, we’re going to do this — because [the guys] choose,” says Anna. ”They’re very selective.” Those who receive these choice requests look at it as an ”honor.” To be invited, they explain, means ”you’re the hottest of the hot.”

World War III is a ”progressive” party, held in a series of rooms, each of them occupied by different groups of girls, and each with its own theme. One of the themes was Dazed and Confused — a reference to the Richard Linklater movie set in a high school in the 1970s, in which the seniors relentlessly haze the freshmen while getting totally wasted themselves. The girls wore short-shorts, tight, low-cut T-shirts and whistles.

The girls awaited the freshmen, who, dressed only in their boxers, were led into their room by some Delta Sig brothers. The girls had props: whipped cream, chocolate syrup, baby bottles, pacifiers. The ”hazing” commenced: girls straddling the boys dominatrixlike, shouting obscenities, calling the boys ”babies,” making them suck on bottles filled with alcohol. Girls poured shots of chocolate syrup on one another and smeared their chests with whipped cream. Then they made the boys lick it off. ”It was like a huge dry orgy,” says Anna.

On the one hand, this was a powerful experience for the girls — they got to dominate the boys for a change. On the other hand, it was all done at the direction of the boys, for whom the party was designed.

”The girls are doing it as a friendship gesture for these guys, but when you think of it, it’s really kind of demeaning,” says senior Matt Sullivan, a brother in the Eta Prime fraternity.

World War III is hardly the only party like this at Duke. Another fraternity hosts an annual ”Playboy” party, where the boys get the same girls who attend WWIII to dress up in Playboy-bunny outfits and walk around carrying trays laden with cigarettes and shots. There has also been a ”Dress to get Lei’d” party, a ”Presidents and Interns” party, a ”Give It to Me, Daddy, I Want It” party, a ”Secs and Execs” party, a ”Snowjob” party (”Work Hard, Play Hard, But Bring your Lingerie?”). Even Duke’s Africa organization has had a party: ”Pimpin’ All Over the World.”

Sullivan’s fraternity, Eta Prime, hosted a notorious ”baby-oil wrestling” party during Rush Week in 2005, in which the brothers filled a kiddie pool with baby oil and invited girls to wrestle one another. ”It was copied from the scene in Old School,” Sullivan says. Loud enough for neighbors to complain, it was broken up by cops after about an hour. ”The police report made it look like a big misogynistic thing,” Sullivan says. ”But the girls volunteered to do it.”

”The idea is that you come to these parties — they put women in a subservient role, to say the least — dressed as some fantasy, right?” says Lisker, who points out that this is not just a phenomenon at Duke but a fairly common experience at campuses across the country. ”I want to say to them, ‘Why are you going?’ ” The problem is, women don’t always recognize it as demeaning or subservient. Anna, for example, sees it as powerful. ”It’s kind of like domination through sex,” she says.

But Lisker maintains it’s exactly the opposite. ”They’ve gotten this message from the media and other places that part of being a modern woman is sort of playing with your sexuality. But you get in this situation where they think at this party that they’re exercising control. They think that they’re showing these boys how it’s done by pouring grain alcohol down their throats, by dressing in a sexy way. What they don’t necessarily get,” she adds, ”is that you put on that Playboy-bunny outfit and you’re stepping into a history of objectification.”

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By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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