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Whether mental, physical, social or emotional, hazing is harmful and is incongruent with the purpose of fraternity/sorority. Research shows that often individuals may not recognize what they are experiencing as "hazing", rather they will chalk it up as a rite of passage or "earning" their place in an organization. With 11,482 undergraduate students at 53 colleges and universities in different regions of the U.S. and interviews with more than 3,000 students and staff at 18 of those campuses, results from the National Study on Student Hazing revealed that 90% of the students who report experiencing hazing behaviors do not believe they have been “hazed”1. The frequency with which serious injuries and deaths result from hazing activities has increased tremendously in the last ten years. From 1990-2002, more hazing related deaths occurred than all previous college and university deaths of that nature on record2. Hazing can affect individuals differently depending on their background and up-bringing. In fact, in some instances, the more long-term effects of hazing are often unseen and referred to as the "hidden harm" of hazing. When subjected to hazing experiences, new members react differently based upon the experiences that they bring into this new environment. The following are examples of how hazing can negatively impact those involved:
• Mental hazing can affect people in many different ways including: anger, confusion, betrayal, fear, resentment, embarrassment, humiliation, hopelessness, helplessness, anxiety and depression are all normal reactions to being hazed. Some individuals, both hazers and those who have been hazed, have become suicidal.
• Physical hazing can result in exhaustion, headaches, hangovers, illnesses, injuries, and scars and can also lead to death.
• Long-term psychological effects can result from unknown factors associated with the hazing experiences that individuals have from their past; i.e., victim of sexual assault/abuse, former military service in a combat zone, physical abuse from within their family, alcoholism, etc.
Often, when individuals are being hazed it feels like the experience could not get any worse; however, in many instances the hazing becomes more severe over the course of the new member process. Research shows that as the hazing is happening, individuals may want it to stop, but they fail to ask for help for fear their organization may get in trouble. Other factors influencing an individual’s decision whether to leave the situation is the fear of being shunned or feeling as though they have already endured too much to simply walk away. Finally, a sense of self-blame can overcome those who are being hazed. Sometimes, individuals will indicate that a new member who wants things to stop will let others down if they leave or tell anyone what is going on.
Chapters that haze often attempt to isolate their new members from communicating with friends and family because they understand what they are doing is wrong and they fear the consequences of being caught. We invite you to learn more by reviewing the additional information provided.
1 Allan, E.J. and Madden, M. (2008). Hazing in view: College students at risk. Available online at http://www.hazingstudy.org/publications/hazing_in_view_web.pdf
2 Hollmann, B. (2002). Hazing: Hidden campus crime. New Directions for Student Services, 99, 11-23.