a.)- “Subjection to harassment or ridicule”
For those of you who knew last week was hazing awareness week, thank you. For the majority of Americans who think hazing, like other issues of abuse, doesn’t exist or is somehow okay, let’s talk about it.
Dr. Gentry McCreary (@DoctorGentry) gave a talk at James Madison University last week, exposing the 5 Myths of Hazing. In an effort to recap the talk, here are 5 truths about hazing:
#1. Not just GREEKS…or fraternities and sororities.
Hazing can take place among any group of people or organization. Consider the case of Robert Champion former Drum Major of Florida A&M’s Marching 100. Beat to death with band equipment by upperclassmen, Champion was required to cross from the front of the bus to the back before the beating would end.
#2.) A “little bit” IS bad, whether it physically harms or not.
Be explicit: physical harm is NOT okay! Members often have a deep desire to belong that they believe any degree of hazing is okay–because “that’s what it takes”. Not to mention conformity is the price many pay in an effort to not feel dumb. Speak up! Don’t be pushed around. Be willing to say “no”.
#3.) Hazing doesn’t teach…
In an effort to earn “respect” senior members of groups and organizations often subject their new members to intense yelling, and terrible, degrading, belittling, dehumanizing–need I go on–(initiation) treatment. The last time I checked, the definition for respect did not include any of the former terms. Characteristically, respect is something that is earned. It is highly unlikely in any case a victim will consider respecting their perpetrator. For an experience to be meaningful members need to feel accomplished, not hazed.
b.)- “To subject to abusive or humiliating tricks and ridicule”
#4.) Hazing does NOT build unity.
Truth. Hazing only perpetuates a culture of power and violence towards and over other people. Rather than cultivating unity among the group it cultivates anger and resentment towards other members. Hazing members of the organization does not make them more committed. If members-to-be are buying into the ideology of ones group, chances are they are already on their way to being fully committed…beating and harassing them, in any manner, does not make their commitment stronger. Members want to belong, they don’t want to be hazed.
#5.) Hazing is NOT a tradition.
Imagine a time when hazing was not a so called “tradition”. When organizations, sororities, fraternities and all other institutions were started, their one goal was not to physically harm its members as a rite of passage into that group. My argument here is not how it started but that it is now a serious issue of moral, and it has the potential to end in death. The normalcy of hazing as a prerequisite to organizational acceptance should not be part of the experience, in any form.
c.) “To harass with unnecessary or disagreeable tasks”
–> WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT? <–
1. Leaders! Don’t let the little things go unchanged. Be conscious of unacceptable incidents that arise. If the little things get let go, chances are so will the bigger issues, and behaviors often escalate. Keep your members in check!
2. Replace hazing with meaningful tasks that actually help new members be successful in the future.
Featured image credit here.