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Franklin and Marshall - COVID Bad...Hazing Good.



Phi Gamma Delta's Weak Fight Against Hazing

Phi Gamma Delta recently published their organizational strategy to halt hazing in the spring edition of their journal.

It is noble but weak. I'll explain.

The plan consists of four main points. These include rethink the joining process, increased training and education, reinforce hazing's risks and consequences and rally all constituents. The article may be viewed here.

An organization can "rethink" the joining process all it wants; however, this will do little to control hazing. Sigma Alpha Epsilon abolished pledging as an organization in 2014 and they still have hazing in their chapters. A recent example involves their chapter at Loyola who was closed for hazing (Rhodes, Chicago Tribune, Feb. 23, 2017). If a group wants to stratify members and treat those who are new to the group as second class citizens, they will find a way to do it.


Two Very Different Hazing Stories...One Common Denominator

Two stories related to hazing hit the airwaves today. One from Penn State where another fraternity with habitual problems simply does not get it and now is being closed. The other involves the cheer team from the University of Kentucky who have proven that hazing is not endemic to male only fraternities.

How much death and bad press would have to happen on the Penn State campus for a fraternity to realize that it can not operate with hazing and violations of campus alcohol policies? You would think they would be walking on eggshells and doing everything by the book.

The UK cheer story is rife with underage drinking, nudity and stupid stunts right out of a poor fraternity playbook.

Both situations have one thing in common. They both lacked positive and engaged alumni supervision. When alumns, who know right from wrong, are engaged in student activities, few problems occur. Bad things including death can happen when they are not. Fortunately, that did not happen in either situation here.





Covid-19 has accomplished something that polio, the Civil War, the Spanish flu, WWI and II, university presidents, deans of students, fraternity executive directors and others have failed to do. It has ended hazing, FOR NOW.

Think of the countless hours and dollars that have been spent trying to eradicate this terrible practice for decades. It has been wiped out by a virus in a matter of weeks. In person higher education is effectively shut down and as a result, so is fraternity life.

Hazing in college fraternities is not a positive thing. It is good that it is gone, at least temporarily. At what cost, however, one may ask?

Giving up the freedom to live as one pleases is a huge price. Living comes with risk. The freedom to risk one’s time to volunteer to their favorite charitable cause. The freedom to risk their life to drive to their favorite restaurant. The freedom to enlist to defend their country. The freedom to risk their life to worship their God. The freedom to risk their wealth and pursue their lifelong dreams.

Yes, also the freedom to pursue education at the place of your choice and to associate with a fraternity. This, too, is not free of risk.

Will administrations abolish group living? Is it possible to have social distancing in a fraternity house?

Will dormitories be abolished also? How does one social distance there as well?

Some who only see the bad in fraternity life may say, “So what. Good riddance. They are not a constructive part of society.” Yes, many poor behaviors associated with fraternities are gone. Gone, too, are the lifelong friendships that are built, the donation of time and money to social causes, the skills learned during the spirit of debate, and pursuit of relationships and learning with their chosen professors.

My hope is that when the dust has settled and the virus has been minimized the only thing that is extinguished from college fraternity life is the hazing. in the NEWS

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