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Hazing in College & University Settings: Can the Tradition Be Broken?

Jataghi Williams

English IV Mrs. N. Jones 27 March 2014

Williams 2 Outline Thesis: Statistics, experts, experiments, and personal stories show that college and university hazing deaths can be avoided by using alternative activities. I. Researchers discuss the definition of hazing in its entirety. A. Hazing defined B. Compare/Contrast Hazing to Bullying Exploring a Hazing survey conducted at Cornell University A. Researchers in charge B. A web-based survey was given to a total of 736 undergraduates to explore their thoughts and opinions of hazing. C. The results yielded from the survey showed that most students were involved in some way with hazing activities. There are many theories associated with the reasons that people haze. A. The famous prison/ prisoner experiment conducted by noted psychologist Phil Zimbardo tested the theory the obsession for control is the main factor that causes a group of people to act violent towards the innocent. B. The results of the experiment showed that after only a few days the men who were the prison guards became violent towards the prisoners. There are many positive and negative effects associated with hazing. A. The consent of an individual does not justify the hazers actions. B. Although used to promote unity, hazing activities causes physical and emotional pain. The activities that are used to haze new members are meant to display unity and tradition; however, they only result in negative outcomes. A. Most activities are geared toward showing current members the dedication of possible members B. The current members went through the same process and feel that the only way to keep tradition going is to do the same to the new members. C. It would benefit the group to work toward creating programs that would supply the organization with a clean reputation. The death of former Florida A&M University band drum major was a result of a hazing incident.

II.

III.

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V.

VI.

Williams 3 Robert Champion died as a result of injuries he sustained during a hazing tradition on a bus with fellow band members B. As a result of his death, many of the people who were involved were sentenced to jail-time. C. The case is still ongoing and Robert Champions family is still working toward another lawsuit, because of suspicion that his death was not an accident. The Anti-Hazing Organization has worked toward promoting information for those who are victims of hazing. A. There is a hotline available to those in need of someone to talk to and to report any known incidents. B. A phone application is also available for use. C. Most states have improved anti-hazing laws D. 44 states have laws and punishment for any infractions. Alternative activities can prove to be beneficial in protecting members of groups and organizations. A. Mentor programs, obstacle courses, group activities, etc. can provide the same ways to effectively recruit and admit new members. B. The alternative activities can encourage new members to join, and earn respect from other organizations. A.

VII.

VIII.

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Hazing in College & University Settings: Can the Tradition Be Broken? Boom! That is the sound of a young mans body hitting the floor. He is lying in the middle of the floor unconscious. He is surrounded by his fraternity brothers, all of them are panicking. Some of them even leave the scene. Hes not breathing. One of them frantically calls the police, hes still not breathing. They attempt to move him to a nearby couch, hes motionless. The paramedics enter the house and immediately try to resuscitate him. Hes dead. The cause of death is alcohol poisoning from a night of hazing. According to noted expert Hank Nuwer, 82% of deaths from hazing involve alcohol. It was a game, they said. A tradition, they

said. The lifeless body of their brother lay before them after what they subjected him to. Statistics, experts, experiments, and personal stories show that college and university hazing deaths can be avoided by using alternative activities. The Meaning of Hazing Hazing is any action or situation, with or without the consent of the participants, which recklessly, intentionally, or unintentionally endangers the mental, physical or academic

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health or safety of students. Some of the dangerous and humiliating activities that are common amongst sororities and fraternities can be compared to bullying. However, bullying is used as a method to exclude people, while hazing is used to include someone into a group or organization. The members who encourage this behavior within the organization feel that it is a form of unity, but it isnt. It is a form of power and control that can ultimately lead to unhealthy relationships between members, horrible reputations for the members and the organization, and most importantly death and injury to participants of hazing activities (Babson). Hazing Survey at Cornell A hazing survey was given at Cornell University to explore the students encounters with hazing. The study was done by researcher Gretchen Poulos, Dr. Shelly Campo, and Dr. John Sipple, two of them are professors at the university. There were a total of 736 undergraduates to participate in the web-based survey. The results revealed that about 37% of them participated in at least one of the activities listed. At least 12% considered themselves to be a victim. The remaining students felt that they were not harmed in anyway, so it made the harmful acts right. The survey also showed that amongst the students, members of athletic teams, fraternities, and

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sororities were the most common participants. (Cornell University) Hazing in Theory Researchers have studied various theories surrounding what causes individuals to haze, and the reasons the victims allow themselves to be hazed. Some say that the act is psychological; noted psychologist Phil Zimbardo would agree. He conducted a research to show how power and control can influence seemingly normal people to become obsessed with their role. In his study he gathered a group of men who were in college and had them decide if they would be a prison guard or a prisoner. The experiment was stopped after only a few days. The guards became vicious, and the prisoners became secluded. His theory is that when people are placed in a

group, they usually end up exchanging ideas that correspond with the main goal. For example, if the goal was to plan an evil prank on an innocent bystander everyone involved would contribute an idea on what to do. This can lead to an array of negative activities that can harm everyone involved. (Tartakovsky)

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Assessing the Negative Effects For instance, just because a person agrees to perform a designated activity, it still does not make the entire process right. Most of time a person is persuaded into actually completing a certain activity. A person may seem unharmed on the outside, but on the inside they feel embarrassed and helpless. For example, the infamous paddling tradition can cause emotional and physical pain. The idea is to build strength, but after several minutes of constant beating and encouragement from bystanders, some are left with severe injuries, a loss of control and empowerment. Other emotional and physical hazards can be: post-traumatic stress disorder, a loss of interest in joining, distant relationships with family and friends, hospitalization, illness, and in worse cases, death. The Unification of an Organization Most members apart of an organization identify with hazing as a way to continue with tradition. In a way, it is supposed to bring a group closer together, and show whos dedicated or not. Hazing is supposed to build trust and unity amongst members, and provide discipline within the group. Ultimately, the goal is to promote brotherhood and sisterhood between fraternity and sorority members. However

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all of these things can be achieved through alternative activities. Organizations could devote the same amount of effort that goes into planning dangerous and humiliating activities, and instead, work toward safe and educational events that focus on the mission of the organization. Hazing in the Media However, there are some organizations within college and university settings that are known for their participation in fatal hazing incidents. One of the most recent is the death of former Florida A&M University drum major, Robert Champion. He was beaten to death by other members of the band. He died from enduring about five minutes of what was known as The Hot Seat, a hazing ritual that was well-known by members of the band. He suffered multiple injuries that caused him to bleed internally, which ultimately led to his death. Many of the members of the band who were guilty of this crime made up alibis throughout the investigation. Twelve people were charged with manslaughter, but Roberts family continues to believe that his death was not an accident and they are pursuing further charges. The case is still ongoing, and Roberts family is striving to make sure that Robert gets justice. FAMU is now implementing stronger anti-hazing rules around the campus in the after-math of this tragedy (Ng).

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Anti-Hazing Policies Together with Florida A&M University, forty-four states have made an effort to improve hazing laws. The Hazing Prevention Organization has also provided a hotline for victims of hazing. An application that can be found on a cellular device is also available. One of the most recent laws passed is called Michaels Law, named after former college student Chun Deng, who died as a result of a fatal brain injury he sustained after a night of hazing. This law is added to those already existing in the state of New York. Some of the other punishments can include: fines, suspension, the extermination of an organization, lawsuits, and jail time (Cox, Coe). Successful Alternative Activities However all of the negativity surrounding hazing can be abandoned with the help of alternative activities. Experts suggest that it would be beneficial to an organizations reputation to be noted as active in their school and community setting. Some of the current members could design and promote character-building activities to promote teamwork. Some ideas for recreational activities include: road trips, house projects, family get-togethers, movie nights, group dinners, activities for the alumni, fun outdoor course challenges, and

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mentoring programs. All of these events can establish group unity without the risk of endangerment. Positive interaction between current and new members will guarantee a stronger organization, devotion from new members, and the respect of other organizations (Allen Madden). In conclusion, all of the accidents, deaths, and emotional instability that were a result of hazing could have been avoided by implementing alternative activities. If members of organizations would have known that focusing on positive programs and team-building events would have kept their traditions strong and their members safe, they would rewind time. It is that same eventful night in the living room of the young man that once lay in the middle of the floor, lifeless. Only this time, he is alive. His brothers are surrounding him. Happiness has replaced to once sorrow-filled room. This time they are congratulating him on becoming a new member of the fraternity. His final test was simply saying the mission of the fraternity, together, with his brothers.

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Works Cited Allen, Dr. Elizabeth, and Dr. Mary Madden. "Hazing Information Anti-Hazing at UCF UCF." Anti-Hazing at UCF UCF. University of Central Florida, 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2014. Babson College Students. "Arguments For & Against." Hazing. Babson College, 2014. Web. 21 Mar. 2014. Cornell. "Arguments For & Against." Hazing. Cornell University, 2014. Web. 21 Mar. 2014. Cox, Jeremy, and Jackee Coe. "Fraternity ends pledging after hazing scandals." USA TODAY: Latest World and US News USATODAY.com. USA Today, 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. Maxwell , Tracy. "Hazing Definitions." Hazing Prevention. N.p., 2011. Web. 21 Mar. 2014. Ng, Christina. "Hazing Assault on FAMU Drum Major Robert Champion Detailed in Documents - ABC News." ABC News: Breaking News & Latest News - ABC News. ABC News, 23 May 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. Tartakovsky, Margarita. "Zimbardos Infamous Prison Experiment: Where the Key Players Are Now | World of Psychology." Psych Central.com. N.p., 2014. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.

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