Hazing News

“Why do we like hazing?” From the Harvard Crimson

Essay by Reina A. E. Gattuso

Excerpt follows:

It’s going to be that time soon.

Rumors abound. Sometimes you are given a key to a secret door, or asked to sign a book based on political affiliation, or blindfolded.

Sometimes the rumors are worse: You don’t sleep for a week and you’re forced to wear stupid clothing. Or you serve older members at events. Or you ridicule yourself and each other.

And worse still: Who has burned a dollar bill in front of a homeless person? Who has pretended to hawk Spare Change News? Who was concussed and prevented from going to the hospital? Who has been sexually assaulted?

I’m talking about initiations. Here’s how they work. All semester, we go through a comp, or a punch, or a rush—a process of competition, selection, and training for one of many exclusive organizations on campus. Sometimes, these processes are educational and fun. Sometimes, they entail a certain level of dickishness, calculated to make applicants feel small. But almost unanimously, these processes rely on hierarchical divisions between members and compers, inside and out.

If and when we get on, we are initiated, and the hierarchy is leveled. During a climactic evening or day or week—often chemically-altered, often somewhat mysterious—we participate in rituals of belonging. Sometimes these rituals are silly and fun: We go on scavenger hunts and dance to Beyoncé.


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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