How to Eradicate Hazing

How to Eradicate Hazing

by Ronald W. Holmes Ph.D.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481704106
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 01/09/2013
Pages: 94
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.23(d)

Read an Excerpt

How to Eradicate Hazing

By Ronald W. Holmes


Copyright © 2013 Ronald W. Holmes, Ph.D.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4817-0410-6

Chapter One

Defining Hazing

With hazing being interwoven in American society and constantly occurring at the secondary and postsecondary levels, we must clearly understand the meaning of hazing from a historical, psychological, sociological, theological, legal and cultural perspective.

Historical Perspective, Ronald W. Holmes, Ph.D.

Hazing is defined as "any activity expected of someone to join a group that has the potential to humiliate, degrade, abuse or endanger a person regardless of his or her willingness to participate" in the activity (Hoover, 1999). Some examples of hazing include paddling or beating a person, depriving a person of sufficient sleep, requiring or encouraging an individual to consume alcohol, drugs or unusual substances, kidnapping or confining an individual and subjecting a person to cruel and unusual psychological conditions (Alfred University, 2012).

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (2007), "many student-athletes believe the myths that hazing will accomplish team building and bonding, instill needed humility in new team members, establish a hierarchy for leadership and decision-making within the team, allow individuals free choice regarding their participation and be fun and harmless." The fact is that hazing has the potential to degrade, humiliate, abuse or endanger an individual through acts of their perpetrators while participating in a group willingly or unwillingly.

Hazing is not new to our society. It was first documented by Greek philosopher Plato in 387 B.C. and by a group known as "Overturners" in the fourth century at the Center of Learning in Carthage according to Nuwer cited in Ellsworth (2004). Through other periods of society, hazing was documented during the middle ages of students at medieval universities and in the U.S. at Harvard College in 1657. The first two hazing deaths were documented in higher education at Franklin Seminary (Kentucky) in 1838 and Amherst College (Massachusetts) in 1847. The first known fraternity-associated hazing death was at Cornell University in 1873, which involved a student being blindfolded and tumbled into a gorge. The first reported college athlete-associated hazing was in 1923 at Hobart College, which involved a freshman being beaten and thrown into a lake. Figure 2 provides a chronology of U.S. hazing deaths according to Nuwer (2012).

While participation in hazing occurs in various extra-curricular activities (athletics, sororities, fraternities, etc.) it was initially documented in the marching band in the early 20th century according to Nuwer cited in Ellsworth (2004). This included the University of Gettyburg where a group of sophomores hazed freshman members of the marching band, as well as similar occurrences at Columbia and Barnard Colleges. Other documented cases of hazing incidents included in 1981 where an associate band director at FAMU tried to eradicate hazing when a 17 year old band member was beaten; in 1984 where a band fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi, at the University of Akron was charged with hazing and in 1984 where a band director at the University of Southern California reported encouraging upperclassmen to haze incoming band members.

Additionally, a marching band student leader and another member at Florida State University were removed permanently from the band due to a hazing incident. In August and September 2012 respectively, Clark Atlanta and Texas Southern Universities' marching bands were suspended for possible allegations of hazing. On the secondary level, DeKalb County School System in December 2011 suspended their entire student marching band activities at 19 schools to investigate allegations of "inappropriate behavior" in the marching band programs. The investigation started after several of FAMU's students, who were graduates of DeKalb County, were either victimized of hazing activities at the university or charged for participating in hazing activities.

As noted, hazing allegations, incidents and/or deaths are steadily occurring, and educational institutions are increasingly faced with legal challenges regarding these fatalities. At the same time, courts are bombarded with legal cases and decisions to determine if institutions have a "duty of care" or "duty to protect" hazing victims. For example, the hazing incident in 1993 at the University of Nebraska, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the university had a duty to protect a fraternity pledge who was severely injured (brain-damaged) while trying to escape fraternity members who were hazing him on the university property.

Specifically, this hazing incident involved several fraternity members confronting the pledge victim in the basement of the institution's building, tackled and handcuffed him to a another member, radiator and toilet pipe on separate occasions and forced him to drink excessive alcohol. After becoming ill, the pledge victim broke free from the toilet pipe, attempted to escape through a bathroom window, fell and, subsequently, encountered severe brain damage. The court noted the institution was aware of previous criminal conducts such as sexual assault and theft involving members of fraternities on the campus. The court further stated the institution was obligated "to take reasonable steps to protect against acts of hazing, including student abduction on the university's property and the harm that naturally flows therefrom" (Reisberg, 1999).

In 1874, the first anti-hazing statue was established in the U.S. This was the result of humiliation new Navy men were experiencing in the Naval Academy (Gayadeen, 2011). Twenty-seven years later, Illinois adopted the first anti-hazing law in 1901. Even with the enactment of anti-hazing laws in 44 states (See figure 3), there appears to be some disparities between the laws in one state versus another. For example, the state of Maryland only recognizes physical hazing whereas the state of Florida recognizes physical and psychological hazing (Ellsworth, 2004).

Psychological Perspective, DeAnna M. Burney, Ph.D.

"When our own thoughts are forbidden, when our questions are not allowed and our doubts are punished, when contacts and friendships outside the organization are censored, we are being abused for an end that never justifies the means. If there is any lesson to be learned, it is that an ideal can never be brought about by fear, abuse and the threat of retribution. When family and friends, and associates are used as a weapon in order to force us to stay in an organization, something has gone terribly wrong."

The words spoken by Deborah Layton are a warning that the importance of the organization should never become more important than the value of human life. While Layton was a survivor of abuse within an organization, Robert Champion was not. Mr. Champion's death sends a clear message that something within a system and organization has gone terribly wrong. Harassment, beatings, defamation, unequal forms of treatment and homicides are outcomes of social oppression that has become ingrained within the social structure of many organizations.

The question is, why does hazing continue? What are the causes? What are the treatments for eradication and elimination? First, hazing continues because it is protected and accepted as an institutional process that gives individuals the right for privileged entry. Beyond established hierarchies in relationships, the primary goal of hazing is to create a system of rank based on domination and oppression that forms power and control over the organization and those who are perceived as less relevant in the organization. There are three reasons why this socially oppressive behavior continues within the adolescent culture:

1. Hazing is about protecting power and control—the power dynamic plays a significant role in the maintenance of hazing. Those who are perceived to be or who are actually in positions of power in organizations use verbal, physical and psychological threats and punishments to control the thinking and behavior of those who are perceived as less powerful.

2. Hazing is about protecting a reign of error—the desire of those who are younger or in less powerful positions in the organization are driven to "consent" by word or deed to hazing activities. Once they have survived their period of hazing, they have the opportunity to then carry on the tradition of hazing with the next generation. "They do what was done to them." The status quo or the reign of error is effectively protected and carried forward from one generation to the next.

3. Hazing is about protecting a socialized process through a code of silence. The code is simply not to tell what happened during the hazing process. It is believed that uniform silence protects all members if caught in the act of hazing. Unfortunately, the motivation to consciously maintain a code of silence protects the organization, not the members of the organization. The "code of silence" maintains and legitimizes hazing as a normal and acceptable act within an organization. As a result, hazing is imbedded and conditioned in the psyche and behavior of those within an organization, and thus becomes an institutionalized behavior that is protected and accepted as normal practice.

Beyond protecting a code of silence, hazing can only occur when there is an environment and time to conduct the act of hazing. Like criminals, hazers and bystanders seek ungoverned environments and time to perform uncensored opportunities to haze their victims. Yes, persons who are hazed are victims of the hazer. Both psychologists and criminologists agree that antisocial behaviors are conducted by persons who have minimal regard for others and social rules. These individuals may have a history of persistent lying or deceit, use charm to manipulate others, difficulty with the law, history of violating the rights of others, intimidation, aggressive or violent behavior, display anger and agitation, as well as poor or abusive relationships. While hazers, bystanders, and the hazed understand that hazing is illegal, these behaviors continue without regret and remorse for their actions toward their victims. The intensity of antisocial symptoms tends to peak during the 20's (the point of post adolescents and during college life and then may decrease over time). Thus, it must be understood that hazing is a socialized behavioral condition that is expressed during a period of adolescence or when a mature adult regresses back into an adolescent state.

Acceptance into college life will often mask antisocial behaviors and other hidden mental health disabilities. In 2007, 18- to 25-year-olds have one of the highest rates of severe psychological distress out of any age group, and also have the lowest rate of seeking help, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In a 2007 report by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), each year one of four college students suffers from some diagnosable mental disorder. These disorders are caused by many conditions that result in relationship problems. Because these students are "unknown and their mental health issues and behaviors are masked, it is not until they began to engage in antisocial behaviors that the victims, bystanders, and advisors of these organizations recognize that the excessive violence and abuse by the unknown student hazer is perhaps more than hazing and rites of passage, but perhaps psychological aggressive punishment misplaced on the hazee. Ninety percent of counseling centers have reported a rise in students with severe psychological distress, according to a 2005 report by Gallagher and Graham.

Thus, within university systems, we can no longer ignore the history of students entering college campuses and those who seek membership within student led organizations. Consideration must be given to the social and environmental experiences that students have lived prior to enrolling into college. Examination of their background and mental health status prior to seeking membership in any student organization should be explored. This analysis suggests that the eradication and elimination of hazing must involve a treatment process that is systemically multidimensional, multifaceted, and multicultural in focus. That is, there must be a cultural focus of the student population that is being reviewed due to hazing. Can eradication be achieved? Over time and with consistency of method, both eradication and elimination can be obtained.

Dr. DeAnna M. Burney is a psychology professor at Florida A&M University. As part of the National Anti-Hazing/Anti-Violence Task Force's initiative to address, "The Culture, Cause and Cure for Hazing," this article first appeared in the Capital Outlook Newspaper on March 19, 2012 entitled, "Psychological solutions for the elimination of hazing."

Sociological Perspecti ve, Patricia Warren Hightower, Ph.D.

In the United States, hazing has increasingly become a problem in high schools, fraternities and sororities, athletic teams, and other professional organizations. Although there are a variety of scholarly definitions of hazing, for our purposes it is defined as individuals being forced to commit an act or acts in order to be initiated into or affiliated with a particular organization. Such events include but are not limited to, alcohol binge drinking, blood pinning, sexual assaults, drowning and psychological abuse.

In the US, the first-known hazing incident dates back to 1657 when Harvard University administrators fined several upperclassmen for hazing freshman students. Since that time, there have been other known fatal hazing incidences on college campuses which have led to student deaths at the University of Texas, University of Maryland, Auburn University and many other academic institutions. As a result, by 2011, 44 states have passed anti-hazing legislation with the purpose of criminalizing individuals that engage in such acts while also sending a "zero tolerance" message.

Despite the large social movement surrounding hazing, one question continues to plague us is: Why does hazing continue to exist? According to Hank Nuwer, several factors must be considered in order to understand the ongoing existence of hazing: First, as an American culture, we have not and do not publicly denounce it. In fact, Nuwer notes that a fairly large percentage of the U.S. population defends hazing as a necessary and important ritual. In one of Nuwer's studies, he found that several respondents openly accepted hazing as a "rites of passage" into certain clubs and organizations." For example, one respondent stated that "America is the home of the free and if he wants to join organizations that beat the crap out of them, then he should be allowed to." Another notable respondent, who is also a mother stated, "There are so many wimps in U.S. society. Everybody wants to be a victim. Hazing among athletic teams, and other social groups, is a rewarding and bonding experience." These kinds of philosophical stances reinforce the culture of acceptance of hazing and until we publicly denounce it as a larger societal problem, it will continue to exist.

Next, we currently view hazing as an individual problem that only affects a few people. This approach is problematic because it does not view hazing as a systemic problem. That is, hazing is a national epidemic that crosses racial, ethnic, class and university boundaries. High school and college administrators must be encouraged to create anti-hazing policies, just like they have adopted anti-bullying strategies. The policies must clearly define hazing and outline how they will punish those individuals who are caught engaging in such acts. Without such efforts, hazing will continue.

Finally, it is still unclear why our children and young adults allow themselves to be hazed. In order to more fully understand the realities surrounding hazing, we must accept the fact that we have generations of students who are "Dying to belong." That is, they are so eager to associate themselves with a particular organization that they are willing to be beaten, kicked, slapped, drowned in alcohol and sexually assaulted all for the purposes of "belonging." We must teach our children and young adults that brotherhood and sisterhood is not connected to abuse. Bullying does not signify love. We do not tell the domestic violence victim that they are being loved when they are being smacked around or verbally assaulted. Instead, we encourage them to get far away from their abuser as quickly as they can. So, we must instill the same value in our children. We must also discourage the culture of silence that is associated with the need to belong. Students must have a safe haven to report such abuse without fear of backlash from their peers and other organization affiliates.


Excerpted from How to Eradicate Hazing by Ronald W. Holmes Copyright © 2013 by Ronald W. Holmes, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents


Defining Hazing....................5
Historical Perspective, Ronald W. Holmes, Ph.D....................6
Psychological Perspective, DeAnna M. Burney, Ph.D....................14
Sociological Perspective, Patricia Warren Hightower, Ph.D....................18
Theological Perspective, Rev. Dr. John H. Grant....................21
Legal Perspective, Jarian N. Lyons, Esquire....................28
Cultural Perspective, Linda T. Fortenberry, Ph.D....................30
How to Eradicate Hazing....................34
Step I - Educate Stakeholders....................34
Step II - Review Policies, Procedures and Laws....................38
Step III - Address Accountability....................41
Step IV - Distinguish Hazing Myths & Truths....................47
Step V - Implement Activities....................51
Step VI - Communicate Impact....................58
Step VII - Advertise using Media....................64
Step VIII - Teach Anti-Hazing Curriculum....................66
Step IX - Evaluate Strategies....................69
Author's Background....................79

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