Confronting Hazing on College Campuses

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A dangerous trend of hazing in Greek organizations has been spreading across the country, resulting in at least three deaths of male fraternity members in Penn State, Louisiana State, and Texas State Universities.

Eleanor Finger, Elon University’s Studen Life administrator, said,

“Extreme behavior among Greek-affiliated chapters continues to be a concern for colleges and universities across the country.”

Nationally, it is all fraternity’s policy to prohibit hazing, yet according to a 2008 study published by an Elizabeth Allan, a University of Maine professor, 80 percent of fraternity members report being hazed.

“It does help to have chapters take time away to re-evaluate their priorities, values, and purpose in order to realign.”

– Eleanor Finger

Two interesting things occurred earlier this months, both on the national and local levels. The first was that Florida State University suspended all Greek life after a pledge died at a Pi Kappa Phi party. The second was that Elon University’s chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha was suspended by its national board of directors for violating the alcohol-related norms in the university’s code of conduct.

“It does help to have chapters take time away to re-evaluate their priorities, values, and purpose in order to realign,” Finger said. “When they return with new members, they have a fresh start to move forward rather than remain stuck in the ‘old way’s that were unproductive, misaligned, and potentially harmful or dangerous.”

Yet, while Finger praised the suspension, many students believe it is not a true solution to the problem of hazing.

“A lot of frats that have already been kicked off are still operating anyways.”  Maddy Gross, a student at Elon University said.

Jackie Pascal agreed with Gross, and believes that neither the actual act of suspension nor the threat of it will change the dynamic of Greek life at Elon’s campus.

“If people actually disbanded once they were kicked off, I think it would set a good example. The past two fraternities that have gotten kicked off are still underground, still functioning, still recruiting new members,” Pascal said.

Pascal and Gross also believe that getting kicked off might actually give Greek life organizations the opportunity to haze students and practice other prohibited acts with more freedom.

Once you get kicked off, I think it actually gives them more opportunity to do some of those kinds of things because

Pascal said, “… They have less regulation, no one is really holding them accountable anymore.”

“They’re gonna want a new pledge class and are probably gonna haze them just the same,” Gross said. “And now, no one from the school is watching them.”

“… Now, no one from the school is watching them.”

– Maddy Gross

Jordan King, one of the director’s of Greek life at Elon said that the problem of hazing at an academic institution starts with being able to define what hazing actually is.

“I think a lot of times, the perception of hazing is where it gets a little foggy,” King said.

He believes the issue that institutions and members of the community must combat focus on normalizing certain activities that have nothing to do with the recruiting process, such as servitude.

He also believes that suspending and disbanding all Greek Like organizations is not the best way to combat the issue of hazing.

“In my personal opinion that can be very dangerous,” King said. “They’d manifest themselves in different ways. It’s idealistic.