North Texas Daily

The horrors of hazing

The horrors of hazing

The horrors of hazing
April 21
10:00 2022

Enduring pain, suffering and humiliation are all worth being part of a brotherhood or sisterhood, right? Being deprived of sleep and made to do awful things is worth the honor of getting to wear Greek letters, right?

Hazing has long been a part of Greek life since the beginning. It is a tactic used on new members or pledges who want to join to prove their allegiance with the Greek organizations of their choosing. 

The university’s policies detail the ways hazing can manifest in clubs and organizations. This includes coercion, physical brutality, mental abuse — activities that subject the student to an unreasonable risk of harm and something that adversely affects the mental or physical well-being of the student. 

More than 50 percent of college students involved in various student organizations experience hazing. Seventy-eight percent of those students experience hazing in a social sorority or fraternity, making it the primary setting for hazing.

Over the years, laws have been established to handle the epidemic of hazing. The Texas Anti-Hazing law was enacted on Sept. 1, 2019, specifying what hazing was and allowing for prosecution as well as increased immunity for people to report wrongdoings and hold universities more accountable.

This bill was enacted way too late. If it had been earlier, the wrongful death of Nicky Cumberland, who died after a car crash in September 2018, could have been prevented. Cumberland was a 21-year-old, third-year student at the University of Texas-Austin. He had decided to join the Texas Cowboys Men’s Student Organization in that fall. After attending an off-campus Cowboys retreat, the driver of the car he was riding in fell asleep at the wheel, crashing the vehicle. 

Cumberland was thrown from the vehicle and died from sustained injuries. The idea that this accident was a product of hazing is not farfetched. There are plenty of factors to take into account when analyzing the situation.

The retreat was a private event for members only, so the events during the retreat are only known to the members. They could have forced new members to do many things during that retreat that resulted in fatigue or sleep deprivation. 

Considering those ideas, it makes sense the driver fell asleep at the wheel, thus leading to Cumberland’s wrongful death. There could have been plenty of ways to prevent it as well, such as driving new pledges home if they were suffering from fatigue. This could have saved Cumberland’s life and solidified their brotherhood. 

Although there have been many deaths due to hazing, it is safe to say there have been many advances in preventing more accidents. Various schools have cracked down on hazing and updated their school policies to detail clauses on the specifics of what hazing is. 

Many organizations have a zero-tolerance policy for hazing, resulting in organizations that have broken the rules suspended from their respective campuses. Most organizations right now are cautious to not break these rules, so as to avoid punishment, causing them to become wary of the dangers that come with hazing. 

Also, it does not make sense to want to join a brotherhood or sisterhood where they humiliate you just to be “one of them.” A brotherhood should be built on respect and trust. If they want to create a family-type bond, there are many different ways to go about doing that as opposed to mentally or physically abusing new members. 

The first step to preventing hazing is educating yourself on the topic and the ways it can manifest itself. It is important to spread awareness of these situations to prevent further deaths. Sites to visit like StopHazing.org or HazingPrevention.org will provide more information on the topic as well as resources to look for help if you or someone you know is suffering from hazing. 

Completely erasing hazing from college starts with campus leadership, as the price to pay is high when students are ignorant of these situations. Everyone deserves a safe, supportive learning environment, free of danger. 

Featured Illustration By J. Robynn Aviles

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Melanie Hernandez

Melanie Hernandez

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