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Scholarship: The Effects of Hazing at One Northern Campus

This is a most useful piece of scholarship on hazing: Moderator

 

Excerpt and author names:

Anne Mercuro, Samantha Merritt, Amanda Fiumefreddo [1]

College is a unique socialization experience. It’s the time when an individual is able to figure out who he or she is, as well as the type of friends he or she wants in his or her life. While Intramurals, clubs, athletics, and dorm-life are common ways of socializing, joining Greek-life –Fraternity or Sorority– is also popular among college students. Fraternities and sororities provide many benefits to students such as leadership opportunities, participation in college activities, friendships and extended connections with other chapters around the nation. Although popular, induction into Greek organizations has become a problem because of the practice of hazing. Hazing is defined as “…any activity, required implicitly or explicitly as a condition of initiation or continued membership in an organization, that may negatively impact the physical or psychological well-being of the individual or may cause damage to others, or to public or private property (Campo et. al., 2005, p. 137). According to Hoover and Milner (1998), “The attraction of hazing probably extends beyond the dictates of tradition, forging bonds through shared, secretive experiences. (The) rituals are thought to strengthen the group by proving the devotion of newcomers but also by helping to create a sense of loyalty” (p. 140). The effort to instill loyalty and devotion to the organization is pushed too hard sometimes. In essence, while fraternities and sororities offer a large social network for students and are beneficial to individuals’ growth, skills, and characteristics, hazing is a problem as it has negative consequences on an individual that simply strives to belong.

This paper studies hazing among Greek-organizations at a public liberal arts college in the Northeastern U.S. and its impact on individuals’ self-esteem. The paper proposes two hypotheses: first, individuals who experienced hazing will have lower self-esteem than those who have not experienced hazing; and second, fraternities haze more than sororities, based on personal observations in a small state college.

Perspectives on hazing

While membership in a Greek organization is typically seen in a positive light, some may wonder if the good outweighs the bad with respect to the potential risk of being hazed. Hazing is universally known as an initiation process that includes aggressive and harmful actions upon new members within Greek organizations, athletic teams and other types of clubs and activities. While hazing practices vary within organizations, there are some common hazing activities such as sleep deprivation,  engaging in embarrassing behavior, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, verbal and physical abuse, and much more (Cokley et al., 2001). These can impact a student negatively and hence it is important to be aware of potential negative implications.

Student attitudes about pledging

Social science research shows that hazing significantly influences people’s perspectives on Greek organizations, and has also affected new members both physically and cognitively. A number of researchers such as Cokley et al. studied the cognitive impact of hazing on students by surveying members and non members of organizations. For instance, Cokley et al. (2001) developed a Survey of Attitudes about Fraternities and Sororities (SAAP) to measure student perception about the role of pledging in Greek organizations. The survey focused on six factors that described attitudes towards Greek organizations: the purpose of pledging, the impact of pledging, conformity to pledging, rules, perceptions of Greek organizations, moral concerns, and beliefs about pledging difficulty.

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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