Hazing: torture or tradition?


Cole Riley, Staff Writer

There’s been much commotion in the news recently about hazing in high schools, sports teams, and college fraternities and questions have been raised about the safety of many traditions.

This past summer, the Phi Kappa Phi fraternity at Cal State Northridge had a pledge die during a hazing ritual, where pledges were blindfolded and left in an unfamiliar area with only a gallon of water, no cell phones, and without shoes, and had to find their way back to civilization. Pledge Armando Villa lost consciousness after 18 miles, and died of heatstroke.

While this is a horrible incident, and could have easily been prevented, many people have been calling for no tolerance policies on hazing in academic settings. Are there any positive benefits to sensible hazing and initiation rituals?

Perhaps more relevant to the students at WY, are the more mild hazing practices occasionally seen during the first few months of school, such as “pennying” freshmen, name calling, and the instance of physical conflict. These activities are most commonly seen with members of athletic teams, but Principal Joyce Kenner makes her stance very clear on any hazing here at WY. Making announcements declaring that anyone caught engaging in hazing may face strict penalties, anywhere from suspension and Saturday schools, to not being allowed to attend school functions like the Homecoming dance or game.

Many defenders of hazing say it helps “humble” new members, weeds out those who don’t take the activity seriously (generally with sports teams), and can help bring groups closer together through shared experiences. But many detractors state that hazing is simply glorified bullying, and cannot and should not be accepted or promoted by the school or students.

A lot of people I know and I have experienced some mild hazing early in our high school career, and we all turned out ok.

If the occasional penny or verbal insult is enough to be considered “abuse” or “tormenting”, you’re in for a rough life, because it gets a lot harder from here on out.

Obviously, extreme situations like those in 2003 at Glenbrook North, or the recent hazing scandal at Plano high school should be treated seriously, but giving a freshman a hard time is not the worst thing in the world, and can actually help to establish a sense of belonging in the school and organization, and can serve as a bonding experience.