It's All Fun Until Someone Dies: Why You Should Always Report On- and Off-Campus Hazing

Hazing is a long-withstanding illegal tradition among many colleges and universities when deciding to join a fraternity or sorority. It is used as a right of passage from being just a pledge to officially becoming a sorority sister or fraternity brother. A pledge must do whatever the sorority sister or fraternity brother says they must do, even if it is dangerous or life-threatening. If the pledge does not do it, then they don’t become a part of the group. The issue with hazing is that the sisters or brothers tend involved tend to demand pledges to do very harmful things to themselves or other people and are ultimately putting their lives at risk. Here are some critical reasons why you should always report both on and off campus hazing.

Hazing is Against the Law

One of the main reasons you should always report hazing is because it is against the law. A person who is responsible for hazing, whether or not someone got hurt, could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. It is still illegal even if the pledge willingly chooses to participate. Hazing also often involves additional criminal acts that should be reported as well. Any crime on or off campus involving hazing should always be reported. Many colleges and universities make this a requirement to report for any college student. Therefore, you could be breaking a rule or law yourself if you do not report it.

Hazing Can Cause Psychological Trauma

When a student is just beginning college, they often want to fit in and make friends quickly. They are often in an unfamiliar area and feel like they need the support and acceptance of others in order to succeed in college life. One way that many college students can quickly obtain this support system is to join a fraternity or sorority and will do anything it takes to be initiated into the group. Because of this urgency, pledges will go through severe psychological trauma. For example, if a pledge was physically abused as a child, he or she may experience Posttraumatic Stress Disorder if hazing involves some type of physical abuse. Reporting if you witness or hear about a hazing event can help prevent students from experiencing psychological trauma.

Hazing Can Cause Trips to the Hospital

It is unfortunately not uncommon that pledges experience such extreme injury that they are transported to the hospital. Given that pledges are often told to do harmful things to either themselves or other pledges, injuries almost always happen in these situations. When the pledge arrives at the hospital, they typically tell the health care providers that something else happened rather than telling them that they participated in a hazing event. If you become aware of this type of situation, it is important to report it immediately so that proper measures can be taken to keep future pledges safe.

Hazing Can Involve Sexual Acts

Sometimes pledges are forced to commit sexual acts whether they actually want to do them or not. Being forced to do something sexual to another person or having something done to you is sexual assault. In addition to being charged with a misdemeanor or felony for hazing, whoever commits the sexual act could also be charged with sexual assault or even rape if a pledge is forced to engage in it. Any sexual crime that you hear of should be immediately reported to the police. Sexual crimes can lead to severe psychological trauma, physical injuries, and sometimes even the development of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Pledges often won’t report when things like this happen because they want to be a member of the sorority or fraternity. Therefore, it is important that any student who hears about it reports it as soon as possible.

Hazing Can Lead to Alcohol Poisoning

A common hazing activity is binge-drinking, where pledges are forced to drink a very large amount of alcohol. Many college students are too young to drink and are not fully aware of their alcohol tolerance level. This can easily lead to an overdose of alcohol. Sororities and fraternities often do not send pledges to the hospital for alcohol poisoning because they think they can handle the aftermath of a pledge drinking too much alcohol. Alcohol poisoning can sometimes lead to death, so it is crucial that it is reported by anyone who becomes aware of it. You could be saving a life.

Hazing Can Cause Trust Issues

Being a member of a sorority or fraternity is supposed to signify brotherhood and sisterhood. It is meant to give someone a place of comfort and support as they are figuring out how college life works and going through difficult times in their college life. When hazing activities are used to become a member of this type of group, it can sometimes cause pledges to develop trust issues. If they are severely harmed or forced to do something that causes psychological or physical trauma, those pledges may not be able to develop trust in their brothers or sisters. The meaning behind being in a sorority or fraternity at that point is null and void.

Hazing Can Cause Death

Although unintentional, death does happen as a result of hazing. The majority of the time it happens because of alcohol poisoning, however other physical injuries can lead to death as well. This is the most important reason that you should always report any hazing activity you hear about, even if it doesn’t sound serious to you. It is possible that you are not hearing the entire story or that you have only heard about the first hazing encounter. Hazing often occurs over the course of a few days or even weeks, so reporting it early could really help prevent additional injury or death from occurring.

When beginning life as a new college student, it can be difficult to figure out where you belong. It is a fragile time in a student’s life and they sometimes seek acceptance from the wrong people so they can fit in. Being in college can be a very rewarding experience if the groups you belong to are meaningful and truly healthy for you. There are sororities and fraternities who do not engage in hazing of their pledges. These are the memberships that are truly meaningful. However, there are still fraternities and sororities who commit very harmful acts during hazing. If you see or hear anything on or off campus that could be considered hazing, report it immediately to your college campus and the police. You could be saving someone’s life.

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