Rite of Passage Gone Wrong

Maybe I’m not the person to be writing about fraternities and sororities and hazing and rites of passage and initiations.  I went to a commuter college and a commuter law school and I was there for one thing and one thing only – to get a degree which would get me a job.  Period.

So when I read stories about hazing, I have to just shake my head.  I just don’t get it.  Apparently, the majority of states, 44 actually, have anti-hazing laws but I’m guessing that a lot of this secret initiation stuff is still going on below the radar.

The latest tragedy resulting from this adolescent behavior comes out of Florida where 26-year old A&M University band member Robert Champion died aboard a chartered bus parked outside anOrlando hotel last fall.

Even though Florida passed a hazing law back in 2005 after a drunk University of Miami student died trying to swim across a lake at the urging of his fraternity brothers (drinking and swimming???), this didn’t stop the idiots at A&M from hazing Champion.

Although no criminal charges were brought against the morons who urged the drunk to swim against the lake, eleven band members are now facing felony hazing charges in Champion’s death.  Two others are facing misdemeanor charges.  According to evidence released by the prosecutor, Champion was beaten to death with drumsticks and bass-drum mallets.

“Hazing is often winked at as a benign initiation ritual, but it has a tendency to spiral out of control, as it did in the horrific events atLong Island’s Mempham High,” I read in an article from 2003 in Sports Illustrated.

When I read these stories, I can’t help but recall the novel, Lord of the Flies, and the groupthink vs. individuality questions it presented.  These hazing rituals don’t seem all that different than what happened on William Golding’s island.

As I said before, I’ve never been a part of a sorority, so it’s impossible for me to relate to those who want so desperately to be part of a group that they would subject themselves to every type of humiliation and cruelty imaginable.  It’s also difficult for me to understand the apathy of those who stand by and say nothing about what they’re witnessing.  And I don’t even want to attempt to get into the minds of the sadistic savages who actually perpetrate the abuse on those who want to belong.  I’ll leave all that up to the psychologists and sociologists.

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
Author website: http://www.idontgetit.us
  • Chief98110

    The irony of this tragedy is that it took place at an institution of
    higher learning. I guess these morons didn’t get the memo about higher
    learning. They are in for a real learning experience once they get to
    spend time in jail; convicts have their own hazing rituals. What a bunch
    of jerks.

  • Ron F

    I was never in a fraternity and did not want to join one.  Nevetheless it seems to me that most hazing is harmless and is a bonding experience for the participants and most people who want to join a fraternity or sorority are aware of the hazing.  Like most thing in life, hazing taken to an exteme in this case is extremely dangerous.  Drinking excessively is also dangerous.  The problem with this case is that this was not a fraternity or sorority, it was a school sponsored activity.  In addition, it was not simply hazing, it was an organized beating.  School officials had to know about the hazing and should have some liability.  The participants should all face criminal charges for assault and batttery and if the facts justify it homicide charges.  I am not sure we need anti-hazing laws, it seems like we have enough criminal statutes that they violated.

  • Kevin M. Temple

    Most fraternity and sorority initiations are a solemn events with many occuring in churches. Most  independents have always viewed fraternities and sororities with disdain because they left school without having this experience. These friendships   in many cases last a lifetime.  

  • Roger Ward

    Anti-hazing laws are probably necessary.  Some district attorneys may be reluctant to bring sufficiently strong charges in a hazing death because the particulars surrounding a hazing death don’t fit perfectly with the requirements of the charge considered.  Yes, there are too many laws already and I don’t really want to add yet another, but anti-hazing laws give prosecutors one more tool to help the weak and the stupid.  Such laws probably won’t do much (in advance) to help a young person who is desperate to belong to a given group but they make it more possible (after the fact) for an appropriate punishment to be levied on the criminal transgressors.   It is the obligation of an enlightened society to help and protect the weak.

    • wally

      I disagree. Anti- hazing laws are not necessary. If anyone is hurt physically, there are sufficient laws on the books that cover the crime.