When Hazing Goes To Far: What are The Health Dangers?

Blindfolded man at Occupy Wall StreetEvery year fall brings a new arrival of bright eyed freshman to colleges and universities around the U.S. The atmosphere of campuses all around the country is teeming with both optimism and uncertainty; optimism because hope is the lifeblood of new students. However, uncertainty is the most common bane for new students because they desperately want to belong and be accepted by their peers. For most students, they find this acceptance through joining Greek Clubs and organizations, such as fraternities and sororities. Sadly, in recent years this need for acceptance has caused both physical and psychological injury to countless students, due to hazing and excessive alcohol consumption.

Fraternities and sororities are highly coveted organizations for freshman college students because they can secure their place on campus and college society. However, there is a high price to pay to be a part of some of these societal groups. Oftentimes, there is a rigorous rite of passage that must be endured in order to wear the Greek letters in pride. Unfortunately, these rites can be very damaging and life changing. This activity is known as hazing and has raised the question of whether it is even necessary at all.

What Happens During a Hazing Ritual?

Although hazing can happen at a high school level, it becomes much more pronounced in a college setting. Most fraternities have at least one initiation ritual that new members must pass, and it is common for it to involve alcohol. Greek organizations are especially well-known for their hazing practices, and ritual drinking is a major component of most of their initiations. In many cases, an incoming member of the fraternity or sorority will be pressured by a large group of their peers into consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. It is also common for new pledges to be given a series of random and often bizarre tasks to accomplish while they are drinking, and they might also be subjected to physical abuse.

The Dangers of Fraternity Hazing

Most students who go through an initiation will end up with a massive hangover, but some people will literally drink themselves to death. A hazing incident at Northern Illinois University in 2012 led to the death of David Bogenberger. The freshman was a Pi Kappa Alpha pledge, and he was sent to several rooms to consume alcohol and answer questions during a two-hour time period as part of his initiation. Bogenberger’s blood alcohol level spiked to almost 0.40, and he was found dead the next morning. As a result of this incident, 22 students have been charged with a hazing crime.

Participating in ritual drinking presents several dangers to the students who are involved. For example, in recent years alcohol and hazing related incidents have brought lots of attention to the state of Florida, the worst resulting in the 2011 death of Robert Champion, who was killed during an abusive hazing ritual on a Florida A&M bus. This incident, and others like it, have undoubtedly made law enforcement even more vigilant regarding public safety and motorists driving under the influence.

Sorority paddleSchools Take Action Against Hazing

Several Florida universities have banned fraternities and sororities from holding certain activities as a result of issues related to alcohol and hazing. In response, this has caused the entire state to take a closer look at the way new pledges are being treated. However, there is truly no way for any university to ensure that hazing will not take place, and it is likely that these bans have simply pushed the practice into a greater shroud of secrecy.

In an effort to shed some light on this dark practice, high schools and college administrators can bring the issue into the light. Educating would-be freshmen and older college students in several ways about the dangers of hazing and binge drinking might be the best way to curb this dangerous phenomenon.

  • Inviting a Tampa DUI attorney to share the consequences of driving while intoxicated could address the perils of how excessive alcohol consumption can affect students legally.
  • Having a county coroner discuss and share photographs of what happens to a body that has expired due to excessive drinking may help bring the message home.
  • Professionals could also show photographs of what happens to the body as a result of physical damage due to hazing. In addition, they may even have a medical personnel expound on the type of hazing injuries they see in the emergency room, and how this can negatively affect students.

In short, the idea that Greek organizations nurture camaraderie, bonding, and kinship is true for most individuals. Unfortunately, the ritualistic rites that accompany some of these organizations can cause physical and emotional scarring that can last a lifetime.

Jamica Bell is a parent to two college students and contributes this article to advocate healthy lifestyles and safety for college students. David Katz is a Tampa DUI attorney and principal partner of the Law Offices of Katz and Phillips, P.A. Mr. Katz was recently recognized by the National College of DUI Defense and awarded his Board Certification as a DUI Defense Expert


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