Fraternity Hazing

fraternity hazing

If you haze, your fraternity will die. The severity of your hazing will determine how fast. Fraternities that haze severely will eventually get caught and be forced to close by their university or their national headquarters. Before that, their membership will dwindle at an alarming rate because the brothers will lose interest in the fraternity. They will lose interest because hazing is not that much fun.

At my university, a fraternity was closed due to severe hazing. One of their pledge nights had the entire pledge class locked in a room with a keg of beer and a box of adult diapers. They were not permitted to leave the room until the keg was finished. I imagine some idiot thought that this was a way for the pledges to bond.

I was told that on the night in question an alum was visiting town and decided to show his wife his fraternity house. When he stopped by, he was told that they were having a pledge night and that the pledges were locked in a particular room. The brothers refused to tell the alum what they were doing. Eventually, they opened the door for him and he saw a room full of drunk 18 year-olds in wet diapers. The next day, he informed the national headquarters about what was going on, and they informed the university. I know they shut the fraternity down, and expelled a lot of those brothers from the fraternity. I am not sure if the university punished any of the brothers any further. If they didn’t, they are very fortunate. They could have easily been kicked out of school, and in my opinion, probably should have been.

Fraternities that participate in minor hazing events are not much better. They may feel better because their hazing is more stupid than anything else. Eventually, the brothers will become disinterested and stop attending pledge events. The pledges will be brought into the fraternity in this toxic environment, and will not really have a good grasp of what the brotherhood is all about. They will perpetuate this cycle, since this is all the really know about fraternity. Slowly, recruitment numbers will shrink because the brothers will not be that enthused about the fraternity.

I learned of another hazing incident while I was IFC president.  This fraternity had a particular pledge night that was minor hazing. The brothers would bring the pledge into a room blindfolded. In the room, the brothers would be circling a table and would have dozens of candles illuminating the room. At the table sat the pledge marshal. On the table would be a half full bottle of vodka and a glass full of water. Some vodka would be spilled on the table to give the smell of booze. The intent was for the pledge to think that the full glass was vodka.  The brothers would bring the pledge in the room and take his blindfold off. The pledge marshal would give a talk about how brotherhood is about trust and taking care of each other and whatever other non-sense that he could think of. At then end of his talk, he would tell the pledge if he trusts the brothers, he’ll down this drink.  I was told most pledges would grab it and start chugging despite being scared out of their mind. The peer pressure was too strong with so many people they were trying to impress in the room.

This was obviously a chapter that was disciplined for what happened, but the true damage went much deeper than their probation.  Their hazing hurt their brotherhood as it created a toxic environment amongst their members.  This is what will eventually kill that chapter (if it is still around).

If your pledge program is based on hazing, I suggest you reconsider the purpose of your organization. If you are trying to create lifelong friendships that are beneficial to all involved, you are going about it the wrong way.

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