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The Whitworthian summarizes hazing over the years

Then & Now: 1960s-2000s
By: Jasmine Linabary and Daniel Walters
Posted: 4/8/08

Excerpt: Whitworth culture has been influenced by many changes since 1960.
The prefix of the word “Traditiation” implies tradition. But the word has only been a part of Whitworth lexicon since 2000.

In 1931, when regulations were formalized, freshmen got their first taste of the Whitworth experience during “Initiation.”

The Whitworthian featured articles about Initiation controversies in 1989, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1999.

An Oct. 22, 1996, editorial by Hanna Ganser recommended Whitworth “scrap Initiation” because it “advocates the mocking of incoming freshmen” and “destroys the camaraderie it attempts to create.”

According ­­­to a March 11, 1997, Whitworthian article, President Bill Robinson threatened to eliminate Initiation entirely unless it was revised. ASWC revised the policy, requiring initiators to submit plans, and threatening Big Threes for hazing.

Most controversy centered on two practices: “icing” and “tubbing.” Icing was a McMillan Hall tradition. Initiates would sit in buckets of ice, shivering until they made the initiator laugh with a clean joke. “Tubbing” featured rotten food and motor oil smeared over partially-clad Baldwin male freshmen. The two traditions were outlawed in 1995, but continued as an “optional” part of Initiation off campus.

When instructor of theology Moses Pulei was a student, he was initiated in Arend. But when Pulei chose to live in Mac Hall the next year, he underwent Mac Initiation, icing and all.

“It felt like in order to be a Mac man you had to go through it,” Pulei said. “They felt it was the best tradition on campus.”

When a 1996 Washington state law prohibited hazing, Whitworth had to strike a balance between exposing the university to legal action and draining Initiation of its student-run status. Pulei asked questions to scrutinize Initiation as ASWC president, “Is initiation meant to make people feel a part of the school? Is it just hazing? Or is it meant to help people learn something?”

Pulei agreed with removing more controversial aspects of Intiation.

Other students, like Nathan Camp, writing for The Whitworthian editorial board in 1998, lamented the loss of “juvenile-yet-courageous” traditions like tubbing, icing and streaking.

While Pulei criticized hazing, he said he valued the bonding experience of Initiation. He hails from the Maasai culture in Tanzania, where initiation rituals are vitally important.

“You had to be initiated into being a warrior and being an adult,” Pulei said. “If Initiation is a rite of passage, then I have no problem with it.”

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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