The Prevalence of Hazing in Colleges

Melody Cabarroguis   Staff Writer


Hazing is known as a form of initiation in which an individual is made to do things that can negatively affect his physical, mental, and emotional health. Hazing often starts within regular school clubs like sports groups and honor societies. It can happen within middle schools, high schools, and college universities. Although it is made illegal in more than 40 states, many incidents including physical injuries and death are still reported every year. According to the 2008 research study made by the University of Maine, more than 70% of fraternity and sorority members experienced hazing.

Tim Piazza, a 19-year-old sophomore in Penn State University, died in February 2017 because of hazing. He received a traumatic brain injury and ruptured spleen that was caused by repeatedly losing consciousness and falling due to drinking large amounts of alcohol. During his first pledging ceremony with the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Piazza had to drink large amounts of alcohol throughout an obstacle course as a part of the initiation. He then fell down a flight of stairs and was knocked unconscious. When the fraternity members found out what happened, they carried unconscious Piazza to the couch and tried to wake him up by pouring alcohol to his face and slapping him several times. Afterwards, Piazza woke up and attempted to walk back to the basement unsupervised, but staggered and fell unconscious numerous times.

It took 12 hours before anyone called the police. He was studying to become an Engineer and he was described as a caring individual who always looks out for others.
In the same year, Jordan Hankins committed suicide in January due to hazing with her sorority group, Alpha Kappa Alpha. Her mother, Felicia Hankins, sued the group, which she believed was responsible for her daughter’s death. She said that Jordan “was subjected to physical abuse including paddling […] financial exploitation […] sleep deprivation […] and other forms of hazing intended to humiliate and demean her.” It is not clear if Jordan’s family also played a role in her suicide. However, the family attorney described that the initiation activities from the Alpha Kappa Alpha had pushed Jordan’s PTSD. Felicia described her daughter as someone who “had a smile that would brighten up the room if you are feeling low or feeling down.”

Some Eastern students shared their thoughts on hazing. Diti Kapoor told The Campus Lantern, “Freshman usually fall prey to these traps because they are scared and want to fit in, so their judgment is off when they agree to certain things. Sometimes they are too drunk to make serious decisions that could lead to horrible decisions.” Another student, Harrison Durand, said, “It’s stupid. I don’t think anyone should have to go through hazing just because they want to be part of the group.”

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