A Defense of Hazing
Q: How large is the Greek system at your school?
A: We're one of the largest in the country, I think #1, and approximately 25% of the students are Greek.
Q: Can you describe some of the worst hazing practices that you had to endure as a pledge?
A: Most of our activities involve mind games that teach pledges valuable lessons about our brotherhood and what it stands for. For example, at lineups we poor shots of water out of vodka bottles and have 2 pledges take the shots...then they tell the rest of the pledge class that it was just water. This teaches them to have faith in the brothers. Other activities are demeaning such as getting ice thrown on you. Most of these practices involve house traditions. We make the pledges clean a lot to ensure that they can endure a heavy load of responsibilities that comes with becoming an active brother. A major aspect of our pledge program is pledge flag football; not only is this a strong tradition in our house, but it also creates a great opportunity for the pledge class to really bond and work together as a team to accomplish a common goal. However, we do not cause any physical harm to our pledges.
Q: Being a brother in the house, and presumably continuing to haze freshman the same way you and your brothers were once hazed, do you now see the point of what you had to endure?
A: Again, our hazing often has a specific point or lesson. The overall idea is perseverance and testing the pledge's ability to commit to his brotherly obligations. A lot of it also has to do with tradition. For example, I can talk to an alumnus from the class of '45 who went through many of the traditional "hazing" that we did. It truly links generations and creates a unique bond.
Q: Can you briefly provide a defense or justification for the hazing practices that the house utilizes or simply hazing in general (as a means toward an ends, etc.)?
A: The ultimate goal is to mold pledges into "good" brothers. By this I mean brothers that can commit to the values that we stand for and put his heart into a common goal, whether it be serenades, philanthropy, or a brotherhood activity.
Q: Do you think the same sort of ends, such as unity and deference (etc), could be achieved without hazing and, if so, how?
A: Without unique pledge activities, you lose out on the exclusiveness of the fraternity, and the fraternity would just be some social club. You also risk initiating pledges who cannot fully commit to the house and will shirk their obligations.
Q: Do hazing houses at your school tell their national chapters that they are non-hazing, sign off on papers saying that they don't haze or serve alcohol to minors, and what was your experience with having to engage in such deceit as president?
A: We never signed any papers or documents that claimed we were a non-hazing fraternity. The national constitution says we are a non-hazing fraternity, but the definition of hazing is ambiguous. Additionally, the representatives on nationals most likely all went through some hazing, so they too have an idea of what's really going on.
Q: Do you think hazing will ever be eradicated at your house and in general (from the Greek system)?
A: No, fraternities are to deeply rooted in tradition, and there is not enough monitoring to shut it down.
— From "Hazed and Confused" by Adam Zwecker, '04