Fraternity Hazing


Molly Hanley

I know fraternity initiations are a thing, but I always thought they only happened in places far away that I would never visit. Initiations only really happen in movies like The House Bunny and Neighbors with Zac Efron. Fun for the night, lots of kegs, but no hangovers that couldn’t be cured with a glass of water and some Advil.

However, my perspective on these events changed drastically last year when my brother went away to school. It was a Sunday night, and we hadn’t heard from him for three days. Both my parents and I had tried to contact him, but with no luck. Out of the blue, he called my mom. He was calling from the bathroom floor of his frat house (which will remain nameless for my brothers sake) and told us that he couldn’t talk loudly so we needed to listen up; if anyone in the frat house heard him talking to us it would jeopardize his spot in the brotherhood.

Fraternities are organizations in universities that offer students the opportunity to be a part of a group that shares common values and interests and who are looking for a chance to make long-lasting friendships during their time at that school. Even though frat initiations are usually laid-back and easy, once in awhile they turn into hazings. This is when the senior members of a frat inflict deliberate harm or force on first year pledges to humiliate them so that pledges are forced to prove how much they want to be a part of the brotherhood.

The severity of hazings vary, but often include pledges drinking to excess, being abused, and forced to run errands for those in charge. Though hazings have been “banned” from universities, in America alone there have been fifty deaths in the past twenty years directly related to these initiations.

In history, these rituals have been protocol so that those interested in joining the groups are taken out of their comfort zones. But just because hazings happen, that does not mean all initiations at universities turn sour. But, a line is crossed when the activities that take place during these times are to humiliate the newbies instead of make them feel included.

If you are a movie watcher, Goat (2016) directed by Andrew Neel is based on Brad Land’s autobiography about his brutal frat initiation at Clemson University in Southern Carolina (and is on Netflix).

While my brother never went into much detail about what happened during his initiation, as far as I know his experience was not as bad as some. Though high school students may not think this applies to them because they are not attending a post-secondary establishment yet, time flies and it’s likely that universities we will be attending in the next few years will have fraternities where these events take place. The best way to ensure hazing does not continue to be as popular as it has been is to get educated about the severity of these events, and to speak up when hearing about these circumstances.