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Former Marines discuss hazing

http://thehullabaloo.com/2009/12/04/on-hazing/

from the Tulane Hullaboo (click above for full thread of
comments)

By Josh Forman | Section: Dec 4th, 2009 December 4th Print Edition, Issues, Views ShareThis

Hazing is associated with many organizations all over the world, but college groups get the largest reputation. Having been hazed in the Marine Corps, I take this issue pretty personally.

In the military, it’s easy to let your ego overcome you, just like in a fraternity or sorority. But in the military you learn the skills to take charge and react in the most stressful and deadly situations imaginable, and power is clearly conferred through bills and promotions. With all of that training, power can easily be abused. Sometimes, especially for junior troops, hazing is an unfortunate reality.

The United States Military does not teach service members to haze each other or abuse their positions. I was taught that the people who haze other members were hazed in their past, though I was also taught to accept it as a part of tough learning, training and discipline. But that’s not how I felt when it happened to me.

I’ll never forget the day. I was a junior Marine. I always demanded respect even when I was the lower guy on the totem pole. One particular sergeant didn’t like that. He was so disgusted with me that he decided to take things into his own hands. Yeah, I know demanding respect from superiors as a junior Marine sounds a little crazy, considering the nature of the Corps, but I simply believed that once I’d gone through the rigors of boot camp, being torn down and rebuilt, I would be respected as an adult again, as funny as that may sound in retrospect.

So this sergeant, accompanied by others of his rank, cornered me in the men’s locker room and told me, “So you think you’re big shit.” He pushed me into the wall lockers causing me to fall flat on my butt, knocking down nearly every wall locker in that room. “Come on, bitch! Say something now! You don’t get respect LANCE CORPORAL,” he screamed. That was the only time in my adult life to date that I had not been able to defend myself. I kept thinking, I could punch the hell out of him and then get my ass kicked by his fellow sergeants. Not to mention what may have happened to my military career, a lance corporal hitting a senior sergeant, yeah right. So I stood up with tears of raging anger in my eyes just thinking, “If this asshole was on the other side of this fence it would be on.”

Though, I learned something. That day I knew I would never allow myself or any other Marine haze junior troops. I stood by that through the end of my enlistment, Aug. 8, 2008, when I received an honorable discharge as an accomplished Sergeant of Marines.

There are many different forms of hazing: too many to list. The general idea of hazing includes various activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group or acclimatizing them to the group norm. However, we mostly focus on the physical stuff, you know — hitting, branding and all the other usually painful things.

Fraternities, sororities, ROTC programs and sports teams have long tried to justify hazing. Some believe it creates a bond. I’m not down with that. You don’t physically hurt people to make them feel a part of the group; come on, people. I can understand why teaching a fellow frat brother or sorority sister to be stronger by raising their voices from time to time can seem effective, but even that can be done with tact.

Josh Forman is a former marine and a student at Tulane University. He can be reached for comment at forman@tulane.edu.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of 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 new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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