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I recently enlightened myself to an interesting incident in a small college in northern New York state which brought attention to a subject our country has cursed, loved and fretted about for years – that of hazing. Hazing is defined as:
To persecute or harass with meaningless, difficult, or humiliating tasks.
To initiate, as into a college fraternity, by exacting humiliating performances from or playing rough practical jokes upon. (Dictionary.com)
These “jokes” have affected the lives of a number of people in a large way. The first article of which I made reference comes from a New York Times writer Lisa W. Foderado, which focuses on recent events at Plattsburg State, a college in Northern New York. A boy entering an underground fraternity was put under “water torture,” where he was forced to drink pitcher after pitcher, and even drain funnels of water. This task made him go into a condition which is called hyponatremia, where sodium levels in the blood drop to dangerously low levels; he died later that night. This article shows the dangers of these “underground” fraternities, and their tainting of the Greek system. The second article comes from P&M’s press, and focuses on hazing that takes place in other types of societies, basing it on squirrel activities, and showing how they can harm themselves from dangerous activities. The third article comes from the University of Florida archives, and ties controlled hazing into good tradition. These freshman hazing rituals created a bond between the classes, and gave interesting activities to all of the students.
From the good to the bad, hazing is at the least “an issue.” Hazing from one side can have effects ranging from a hangover, to burst cheek pouches, to even death. On the other hand, a strong bond between the students is made, and gives good experience to younger students in their life education. Looking at Foderado, we are presented a case of extreme penalties from a harsh incident. A boy who was just trying to fit into a group was given the most extreme of penalties from an incident of pure stupidity.
Neither the group nor the boy showed any responsibility in the matter.
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"Hazing and the Student’s Consequences." 123HelpMe.com. 08 Dec 2019
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The University of Florida takes a totally different side on this subject. It doesn’t discount all hazing as bad. In their archives, they actually pride themselves on some of the activities that took place toward the freshman in years past. There were two activities which the classes participated which caused interesting interactions towards other classes. Incoming freshman where required to where a cap, so that they would be known as freshman to the other classes. These freshmen were required to tip their caps at the seniors, whose identity was visible because of the canes that were carried. This ritual actually formed a bond between the freshmen and the seniors, and kept other hazing non-university related out of the picture. This appears totally different from events involving small groups, where the hazing sees no control, and finds itself hurting more than bonding. The hazing that now takes place in most Greek communities is aimed at putting the pledges through more suffering than anything.
P&M tells of judges of these hazing activities, which rate the activity from how much or how long the person or animal can go, with which they are given them points. This type of hazing forces the participants to go farther than they ever should or would under normal circumstances. Any hazing of this type is said to always have the potential of harming the persons doing the activity and anyone around them. Even activities which seem harmless can become detrimental to the life of someone if they are taken too far. The boy in New York died from drinking too much water, aren’t students always told the more water the better?
The family, the participants, the clubs, and the universities are all affected by these activities which usually take place within a small amount of people. Fraternities are banned when these activities take place, universities named unsafe when a multiple of instances take place, and the families can forever be changed, and is this really in the name of entertainment and brotherhood? The basis of brotherhood is not and never will be hurting another person.
Controlled and approved group activities are always available to students, even though some may seem unorthodox. In the University of Florida, the freshman past had to try and get a flag off of the top of a grease pole that the sophomores where guarding, if they were successful, the sophomores would permit them to be called “Florida Men.” This activity was fun, and made a bond between the freshmen and sophomore classes. When controlled and activities are put onto play, many people can have fun, without the possibility of many serious, stupid, injuries.
Uncontrolled hazing has hurt the lives of many people, families, groups, and universities. It has given some traditions very bad names, relating them to alcohol, stupidity, and physical harm. When hazing activities are controlled and involve the university, they are beneficial to the community as a whole. Hazing is an issue that has taken many definitions and many interpretations throughout the years, and continues to be a subject of everyday debate and controversy. Stupidity and tradition seem to be the main themes, and need to be sorted out to find what needs to be done, and what can be fun.