Hazing, according to textbook definition, is the imposition of strenuous, often humiliating tasks as part of a program of rigorous physical training and initiation into an organization.
Notoriously associated with fraternities and sororities, hazing has been linked with other organizations, such as athletic teams, military units and clubs or school organizations.
Hazing has been a factor in some college student deaths, with records dating back to 1838 victim John Butler Groves of Franklin Seminary.
Recent events of hazing have lead to the deaths of Tim Piazza, of Pennsylvania State University, who was pledging for Beta Theta Psi, but died two days after falling down the stairs while intoxicated from 18 drinks in 82 minutes.
Another case involved Raheel Siddiqui, of the United States Marine Corps, who fell from a 40 foot high stairwell landing while running from drill instructor Sergeant Joseph Felix after being ordered into an industrial clothes dryer several times and receiving burns.According to psychologists, hazing occurs because six out of 10 participants believe they can handle the psychological stress, and about 32 percent believe toleration of any pain will become an important life characteristic that will make them stronger and better adults.
The University of Mississippi has five fraternity students who are facing charges after the alleged hazing of a person who sustained injuries.
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Brandi Hephner Labanc said the University of Mississippi strives to create a safe environment for students, families and the community.
“Hazing is doing something or asking someone to do something they do not want to do,” Labanc said, adding: “There is a group dynamic, an individual dynamic and historical context that get shared that recreates itself over time within these groups.”The university has created a list of alternative ideas for organizations and policy changes.
“We’ve formalized our medical amnesty, so students know that if they were aware something was happening, call and report it,” she said. “There is no harm to anybody.
“There is also a hazing prevention group that reaches beyond fraternity and sorority life, and prior to recruitment, students were required to attend workshops where the high risk behavior was discussed. It was a brand new initiative and we will continue with it as we move forward.”
The university is encouraging students, parents and the community to work together and break the bond of silence by asking questions about why an event or ritual is important in becoming a member.
Conversations, whether locally or nationally, are becoming more common. So are reports.