Hazing can often seem like a faraway problem to us when it's not happening on our campus, to ourselves, or to our sisters. It's easy to let this week of hazing awareness go by without really contemplating the effects of hazing, simply because it may not be happening in our immediate community. We can sometimes think of hazing as some old trope from fraternity houses in movies, but to be clear, hazing is still very prevalent in college communities. It is so important to consider the effects of hazing so that we don’t forget why our campus and our chapter is so strict about it. The policies that we benefit from as the sisters of Gamma Tau are that our chapter is a welcoming space, that all of our members can have a positive social experience within our chapter, and that the risks, especially to the health of our sisters, is as minimal as it possibly can be.
In February of 2017, the parents of Tim Piazza were devastated to find that their son had died while in attendance at Penn State when participating in his fraternity’s hazing ritual called “the gauntlet.” Piazza consumed a dangerous amount of alcohol and fell repeatedly, sustaining lethal injuries to his brain and spleen. Piazza was then left alone to die by the men who were supposed to be his brothers. This case, gruesome as it may be, is still only one of the cases of death by hazing. This is the reality of what hazing can become on not just a couple, but many college campuses across this nation.
A string of hazing related deaths surrounded Piazza’s in 2017, and the popular reaction at the time was a push for all fraternities to be abolished. The effects of hazing are lifelong, that is if the victim still has a life at the end of this kind of abuse.
Abuse: regular or repeated, cruel and violent treatment of a person or animal
Hazing is not a joke, and if we let it become one, it not only diminishes the pain and suffering it inflicts on its victims, but it lessons the serious reality of the act in our society. We must continue to be vigilant in our no tolerance attitude towards hazing so that a death like Tim Piazza’s will never occur to one of our fellow students. I challenge you to take a moment to think about the gravity of hazing, especially its prevalence in college communities, and review campus and chapter policies on hazing. Maintaining a strict and serious demeanor about these kinds of activities is so important because it may not be your hands doing the hazing, but there are plenty of hands that are.