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Editorial: Students should speak out to prevent hazing

Published: Monday, February 8, 2010

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

After a Rutgers University sorority was recently shut down as a result of hazing, students need to understand the severity of this kind of abuse, as well as how to prevent it from occurring and why it is imperative to speak up. 

While 90 percent of college students have experienced hazing, many do not consider themselves to have been "hazed." There is clearly discrepancy in terms of what hazing actually is.  According to HazingPrevention.org, hazing is "any action taken or situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule, risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of an organization or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person's willingness to participate."

The NY Daily News reports that six members of the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority of Rutgers were arrested for hazing pledges so brutally that one individual had to be hospitalized.  The pledge was brought to the hospital by her mother after she had been hit more than 200 times. She was covered in blood clots, welts and was unable to sit down. The pledges were informed that "the purpose of the beatings was to humble them, and build trust between them and their sorority sisters." 

Any form of hazing is unacceptable, whether it be pressuring a person to consume alcohol or paddling a pledge so harshly that bruises and welts are visible.  But despite the fact that 44 states have laws against hazing, 36 percent of students say they would not report incidents of hazing because "there's no one to tell," with 27 percent believing that adults will not handle the situation appropriately.

Nevertheless, victims of hazing should know that they do not need to be concerned that their report will not be taken seriously; there is always someone they can tell. Administrators and police officials do not know that hazing is a problem unless they are told. Although students may fear being ostracized or ridiculed for speaking up, it is essential to do so in order to stop hazing from becoming a reoccurring event. 

Students need to know that they should never be forced to do something to feel part of a group and that there are ways to create group bonding that do not include harming others.  For students that have experienced hazing, it is critical they report it so those responsible can be held accountable and so that similar events can be prevented in the future.

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