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Is Hazing A ‘Normal’ Part Of College Life?

Some of you might remember a conversation we had earlier this month about a Dartmouth student who’d gone public about extreme hazing he’d experienced at his fraternity. That drew a surge of listener reaction, from derision (“no one forced him to join a fraternity”, wrote one listener on our website), to boredom (“lighten up, old news” wrote one another), to alarm (“this should not be swept under the rug,” wrote still another).

Then last week, Boston police sought criminal charges against 14 members of Alpha Epsilon Pi, an unaffiliated, off-campus fraternity where five Boston University students were found beaten, bound with duct-tape, nearly naked and covered with food.

And again, a surge in the media, everything from derision to alarm. Boston University officials say students involved in the alleged hazing incident would likely be removed from the school. But others are saying, “Get over it. It’s part of campus culture. No big deal.”

Is hazing a normal part of college life on any campus? We take a look at that question.


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  • Anonymous

    George Bush started out hazing frat boys and ended up sanctioning war crimes like waterboarding. 

    • jolene

      You are too predictable.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone over 18 who subjects himself to potentially dangerous hazing is a fool. 

  • Anonymous

    If there is no harm, what is the problem? 

  • Emmanuel

    I was wondering about the similarities of hazing to basic training and the armed forces. It seems pretty similar: self-admitted, prior knowledge of trials ahead; physical, mental and emotional …

    • Anonymous

      I was in the military. their training techniques are excellent. while basic training is tough, drill sergeants are trained not to humiliate the person, just to be super-hard in regards to following orders and doing as instructed. they break down the individual, but then build him/her up again as an integral member of the unit.

      Morale is a huge issue in the military, because every leader knows that people do not perform their best when they feel like cr*p. This is a lesson I wish America’s corporate leaders would drill into the heads of their line managers.

      Too many mid-level managers think their job is to push people around. Morale in the American workforce is the lowest I’ve ever seen it. This does not bode well for America’s economic success. Mark my words.

      • Anonymous

        “humiliate the person” “break down the individual” – This is a distinction without a difference.

        • Yobo2

          There’s a big difference between:
          a) a drill sergeant screaming in a young soldier’s face, “Drop and give me 10″ or “Soldier, I did NOT tell you to move your arm — Is there something wrong with your ears? Is there something wrong with your arm? Then you do NOT move your arm unless I tell you to, and when you’re standing at attention, you definitely do NOT move your arm!”


          b) a frat that dumps its pledges somewhere, beaten, bound with duct-tape, nearly naked and covered in food.

  • Jinxnolan

    What is advantageous in bullying and controlling others. Isn’t this what happened inNazi Germany?

  • Anonymous

    Hazing in fraternities or anywhere is just plain wrong.

    Hazing is systematized bullying.  The fact that so many people accept it as par for the course is a sad commentary on the state of American society right now, where people in positions of power and authority think it is “the natural course of things” to use their position to gratify their own ego, even if it means humiliating and demeaning others. The question is, why do so many people think it is so satisfying to humiliate others?  It’s a question no one wants to even consider.

    Even well-meaning people (mistakenly) think that hazing new members of a group will toughen them up or instill a sense of group cohesion, when in fact there are many ways to do these things without humiliating anyone. In reality, hazing only instills a sense of entitlement in those who hold positions of power.  Even ordinary people can begin to feel a thrill in using their authority to push other people around, even when they gain nothing by it.  (See details of the Stanford Prison Experiment and others like it, for example.) With repeated misuse of power, bullying/hazing begins to feel “natural” to them, when really, it’s just what they’ve become used to. 

  • Jjhgt

    hazing is a part of frat. if you weren’t hazed, you werent in a frat, you were in a social group. a necessary evil

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