What's your opinion on hazing?

A high school near where I live recently removed cheerleaders because of a hazing incident.

I don’t know to what level the hazing occurred; but it got me to wondering what the general consensus is regarding hazing.

Is it ever possible if it’s done the ‘right’ way? i.e. some type of initiation that isn’t unsafe or painful?

What are some examples of acceptable hazing?

I certainly see the benefit of what hazing is supposed to accomplish; in that you feel more like you’re part of a distinct group.

I’ve been part of what I would call hazing to join various groups I’m part of. It wasn’t harmful in any way; but mostly just a meeting where we’re sworn to secrecy.

it’s juvenile and dumb.

I think in general it should be strongly discouraged among teens because they seem to have a hard time distinguishing the line between mild humiliation and real harm.

Depends. It can be harmless or even beneficial. One fraternity where I went to college had people count the number of spikes on the fence that surrounded the campus, or recite the Greek alphabet before a match burned to your fingers (a friend had problems because he’d break into laughter when the got to pi-rho).

Sometimes it requires people do things like clean the campus or wash the outside of the fraternity house (before powerwashing).

A little more gray was the “Bum’s photo,” where the pledges dressed up in old and dirty clothing and stood in front of the fraternity house for a photo. As they posed, the sophomores dumped buckets of water on them from the second floor as the picture was taken. One year it came out perfectly: the wave of water was caught as it came down and was about three feet above their head. They always chose a warm day for it, so it was harmless.

But if it involved drinking or physical pain or humiliation, it’s completely wrong.

They are being very vague on what happened with the cheerleaders, but surprisingly often male teens decide that an excellent idea for hazing is shoving something up the victim’s ass.

I think it is an exercise in stupid sadism. I also think that if you knowingly and voluntarily join an organization that practices hazing, then you forfeit the right to bitch and any abuse you endure is only what you signed up for.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

If that’s true and tells the whole story then… yawn.

The ‘value’ of hazing is that it allows new recruits to feel like they paid something unique to be part of the group, gives them something in common with the group and sets them apart from ‘normals’. It’s a cohesiveness exercise.

That’s the idea, anyway. The problem is that hazing is by definition a form of harassment, and it swings open the door wide for sadists to twist it into something awful for their own benefit. And whatever awfulness they instigate is then perpetuated forever, because the people who endured it can only justify the fact they went through it by defining it as normal, which means they have to do it too, to anyone else coming in. Which means you send people on snipe hunts, or panty raids, or push them into pools, or shove things up their butts, or have them kill a man, just because it’s “the way it’s done”.

Personally I think there have to be better ways to promote feelings of exclusivity. Perhaps little badges?

I think hazing is evil when it crosses the line into pain or humiliation. I’ve seen examples[sup]*[/sup] of it that I was happy to miss out on although they were essentially harmless.

The ship that I sailed on several years ago still does a line-crossing ceremony when they cross the equator. They’re a bit secretive about the details, but I get the impression it’s rather like an amateur talent show for the first-time crossers. I don’t think they’d take it too far.

  • Well, one example, at a curling tournament. The first year I played in it, I was just too exhausted to stick around for the event that turned into the hazing. The second time, I saw it coming before it happened.

I started a thread on hazing a few years ago, and a surprising (and depressing) number of Dopers felt it was OK in order to promote group unity or somesuch.

I’ve always felt hazing is a self-perpetuating exercise in which the anointed get to torment or brutalize lesser beings, who then in turn look forward to inflicting harm (emotional or physical) on others.

The worst excesses historically seem to have been in the military (it’s chilling to read about the Soviet and WWII-era Japanese military, for instance). College organizations are prone to lesser but still obnoxious hazing in which people are sometimes sexually assaulted, suffer serious injury of other kinds, or death.

And to what real purpose? If frats for example want pledges to earn their way in, why not require some kind of public service instead of beating them up or having them drink until comatose?

The answer is that cruelty for its own sake is more rewarding for a lot of people…

I was a student at a large state university in the 1970’s with about 30 fraternities. And everybody knew that there were a lot of hazing rituals.
And here’s an interesting data point, which surprised me:

The frats known for the most difficult, and even brutal, hazing were the most popular ones…They had huge numbers of new recruits hoping to allowed to pledge.

The frats known for minor hazing were the least popular ones, and had trouble filling their new pledge class every year.

And this was all voluntary… (unlike,say,the rituals in the navy mentioned above).
Nobody was forced to join a fraternity(75% of the students did not).
But all the guys who did join knew in advance that they would be forced to go through a lot of hazing.
They seemed to enjoy it.

It is but unfortunately boys will be boys and legislate all you like that ain’t gonna change. There will always be tragic accidents but they’re rare,

Because they were 18 and stupid.

I challenge the basis of hazing. Commitment to a group should be built up over time with extended efforts and not the relatively instantaneous result of a few days of doing stupid things in public. This is how the real world works: when you get to a new workplace there won’t be any rituals or ceremonies to make you feel like you belong,* you have to prove yourself over time. Any humiliations will come as a result of your inability to perform, and that’s as it should be.

*at least no workplace I’ve ever been in.

To be fair, most of the places I’ve worked in there isn’t a commitment to the group. People come to do their job, and if other people start vanishing people will worry more about how it effects their workload than how it’ll effect the group(aka the company) as a whole.

It’s changing already.

Monster lawsuits plus unwelcome mass media exposure can indeed overcome bureaucratic inertia and pressure from one-time hazers (notice how universities are cracking down more these days).

Spy Magazine had an article once about that ceremony (as I remember, in particular what happens on US Navy ships).

As for hazing in general, it sucks, particularly when kids die every year due to it. Right now, some former Penn State students are on trial for the death of Timothy Piazza. They gave him eighteen alcoholic drinks in less than ninety minutes and then after he fell down the stairs and was clearly injured, did nothing to get him medical attention. For hours.

What is sadistic and awful with snipe hunts? And I only ever heard about them as summer camp practical jokes (supposedly also for unsuspecting tourists, but I’ve never heard about an actual example of a tourist being sent on one).

Apart from that, I find hazing preposterous, regardless how mild.

I have come the conclusion that it is at least partially a personality thing. Organizations like fraternities self-select for those looking for group inclusion. I’ve had people tell me with all sincerity that they thought hazing or even just self-humiliating competitions with full participation by everybody really did build a sense of community and belonging. I absolutely believe them and more power to them.

But it would never work that way for me. I’d say “fuck this, I’m not participating in this bullshit.” Whether it were simple corporate retreat games or even the mildest fraternity hazing, I’ve got less than zero interest in participating in those group-building exercises. Live with a bunch of guys in a big frat house? What, are you punishing me for something? Who the hell would want to do that :p?

I’m embrassed to say this at my advancing age but this difference really only finally dawned on me several years when I newly divorced friend of mine was looking for a new place to live. I kept steering him towards nice-looking affordable apartments, he kept looking for shared communal-living situations. Living with a group of people by choice!? Utter madness! It was the first time I really started wrapping my head around groups like fraternities/fraternal organizations which had always seemed like ludicrous wastes of time to me before.

I was listing a continuum of theorized types of hazing, roughly ordered from least bad to (hopefully) obviously bad. And I was using ‘snipe hunt’ as a generalized term referring to any type of false time-wasting errand that ‘the new guy’ might get sent on - looking for a left-handed monkey wrench, a fictional room or department, that sort of thing. It’s my understanding that there are some occupations where that sort of thing happens, including the military.

Having gone through one, it’s something you take on for yourself, for whatever reason, but never advise someone else about it.