Hazing News

Editorial from University of Texas student newspaper

Link to SAE followup in the Daily Texan


Commentary follows: Burns, shocks, beatings, forced heavy labor under extreme duress – welcome to Guantanamo Bay, or least Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s local version of the notorious military prison. On a college campus, torture – with a liberal dousing of alcohol – can simply be called good fun, and this “good fun” has been an accepted, if hushed, ritual of our Greek system for as long as we can remember. Although the deplorable hazing activities revealed this week by four SAE pledges’ Travis County court affidavits immediately brought to mind our government’s struggles to qualify and define torture in Cuba, to draw a parallel between the scandalously abusive detention camp and the hazing rites of Texas Greek organizations would be unfair. Because unlike the prisoners subjected to torture by our government, the prospective members of SAE and the numerous other Greek groups at UT eagerly volunteer to be physically harmed and mentally shamed year after year.

The Texas Greek system is fueled by the loyalty, pride, tradition and honor of its members. But where are their morals? Considering the “traditions” of barbaric hazing and subsequent forced silence, the cyclical system may have never had them in the first place – and with each new pledge class, misguided ideals are perpetuated into the next generation.

Historically speaking, the Greek system used to serve more of a purpose for its members. College was once for the elite, and eligible men and women could use social organizations to network and secure some form of success or status in their post-college lives. But more and more the system is losing relevance. No longer must one be woven into the fabric of the upper class to become a meaningful citizen, and it’s becoming evident that our country would benefit from leadership and independence that are as far removed from the Good Old Boys Club as possible.

The current state of the world calls for massive change and individual innovation. Even UT is bending to the future – our campus is more diverse than ever, and we’re constantly on the cutting edge of academia. But the Greek system still sits, stubborn and idle, clinging to its beloved notions of tradition and legacy. Its shameful, pointless and abusive induction behavior continues to weigh the University down.

Something needs to change within the system. We’d like to hear from inside of it – mostly, we’d like to hear the accused speak for themselves and not only through their lawyers. We want those who have experienced or condoned this behavior to come forward and share their side, or at least educate the many fellow UT community members who are shaking their heads in confusion and disgust.

Have they learned anything from this experience? Have their conceptions of honor and integrity changed? Until something within the system gives, people will continue to get away with torture and others will get hurt. And what for?

– LF

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. 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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