When I was a freshman entering college, I wanted to join a sorority. I was hesitant, though, when I talked with family members and friends. They warned me about the risks of being hazed. Having not heard the term before, I went to Google and learned that hazing is “any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them, regardless of a person’s willingness to participate” (https://stophazing.org/issue/). Needless to say, I was terrified. Surely, that wouldn’t happen, right? That anxiety went away during recruitment, and I joined a sorority. These women were my people. We shared the same values and morals, but I was on edge for the first few months. I was terrified of being hazed. That was not how I wanted to bond with other women.
We ended up bonding by having meal dates, movie nights, and retreats. Each time, though, I was slightly nervous about being hazed. But, it never happened. I was safe. However, many people are not as lucky. Hazing happens in this state and it happens nationally. That is what I am here to discuss: hazing has to go.
It never made sense to me. Why do people run organizations and haze in order to initiate members? How does this reflect a close-knit organization? The mental and physical abuse that arises from hazing is not worth the “bond”. It is not worth the “brotherhood” or “sisterhood”. Nothing is worth your life.
Unfortunately, since 1838, over 250 lives have been lost as a result of hazing, with 50 occurring since 2007 (https://www.hanknuwer.com/hazing-destroying-young-lives/). Lives have ended due to selfish acts committed by young adults. Lives have ended because people did not consider the life-or-death matter hazing presents. It has to end and it has to end now.
In South Carolina, where I attend university, people are at work to make a change with hazing. While colleges and universities work to implement their own laws, many people are working to change state laws. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to sit down with one of those people: Mrs. Cindy Hipps. Unfortunately, the Hipps family lost their son, Tucker, in 2014 at Clemson University while pledging a fraternity. Without question, members of that fraternity and hazing were the culprits. To this day, no one has been imprisoned for ending Tucker’s life. Yet, the Hipps family has not stopped fighting for change.
I write this today to garner support for not only the Hipps family, but all families who have been impacted by hazing. We are trying to change South Carolina law, urging to make hazing that causes severe bodily injury or death a felony, rather than a misdemeanor. We want to hold those accountable for their actions, regardless of “age” or “intention”. This is a problem that has clouded the purpose of organizations (sisterhood/brotherhood, service, academics) and has made it about embarrassing members before one can join a group. This is a problem that has taken lives that should never have been taken. Hazing, whether you are in Greek Life or not, impacts us all and it is up to us to make a change. Share this article, sign and share our petition (https://www.change.org/p/south-carolina-legislature-change-hazing-laws-in-south-carolina?redirect=false), and spread the word. One life lost from hazing is one too many.
For more resources, tools, and information, please click here: https://stophazing.org/resources/digital-tools-downloads/