Staff Editorial: In condemnation of hazing rituals

It has become painfully apparent that action must be taken to eradicate the all too common practice of hazing.

Such initiation rites are prevalent in a variety of exclusive social organizations and often directly contradict the clubs' alleged core values. It seems as though no group is immune to the cancer of hazing - sports teams, military squadrons, orchestras, fraternities and sororities have all fallen victim in the past.

The exclusivity of these groups is an overriding constant. Exclusivity alone, however, cannot breed immorality. In order to address this glaring nationwide problem, we must first ask: Why does hazing persist? Why do organizations continue to condone orientation rituals ranging from the inane to the hazardous?

Members of such organizations often use hollow jargon to label their initiation processes as "constructive." Unfortunately, many initiation processes have devolved into naught more than acts of malice that are destructive to the physical and psychological well-being of new members. One would be hard-pressed to comprehend how recurring, violent degradation could be a constructive practice. Instead, hazing is quite the contrary: incomprehensible nonsense.

Hazing can also masquerade under the guise of "tradition." All members have endured the same hardships, so it stands to reason that all future members should uphold the rites of their organization. Further, the hyperbole of the human memory only intensifies the cruelties over time. The hackneyed tale of the unsympathetic grandfather who walked "10 miles to school, uphill both ways" lends insight into the mindset of those who blindly follow the ridiculous traditions of their predecessors.

The third argument in support of hazing is the notion of a "shared experience" among the entire group, which serves to tighten the interpersonal bonds between each and every member. It's entirely true that hazing can foster stronger relationships. Unfortunately, the relationships are stronger due to the unspoken empathy felt between each and every member as a result of their mutual degradation.

It is foolishly optimistic to think that initiation rites will ever be eliminated. It is entirely possible, however, for rituals to be reformed to a system of respect and goodwill. This can be accomplished by making initiation processes universally positive. Rather than collective shame, members would experience unity in their collective contentment. In addition, such morale-boosting exercises are inherently constructive, serving to instill confidence and philanthropy in new members, rather than leaving them jaded and misanthropic from the hardships of hazing.

One of the most lamentable aspects of hazing-related mishaps is their preventable nature. By restructuring initiation processes to emphasize positivism, however, we as a society can put an end to these dangerous practices and in doing so strengthen countless organizations.