A study by psychology majors at Ramapo College of New Jersey shows that hazing not only physically scars people, but it also has a long-lasting impact on a student’s self-esteem, mental health and school life.
Hazing in college Greek Life and other organizations has gone up dramatically in the past ten years as reported by, insidehazing.com, a website created by Dr. Susan Lipkins, a hazing expert who has been working in the field for 25 years. Not only is hazing in general on the rise, but the brutal actions that take place while hazing have become more severe.
Some students have died, and other cases have involved the overconsumption of alcohol, extreme public or mental humiliation, sleep deprivation, verbal abuse, being forced to perform sexual acts or being forced to wear embarrassing clothing, according to a national study done on hazing by Associate Professor Elizabeth J. Allen and Associate Professor Mary Madden of the University of Maine.
The effects of hazing include psychological trauma, sleeping problems, flashbacks, eating disorders, anxiety, avoidance, depression and intense feelings, according to insidehazing.com. Hazing has physical and emotional effects on a person, and members of college sports teams and fraternities and sororities are the most likely students to be hazed, according to the study by Allen and Madden. They found that 55 percent of college students involved in clubs, teams and organizations experience hazing.
Members of Greek Life do not even realize they are being abused, studies show. Incoming members receive the most abuse from the older members, which they believe teaches them hierarchy and discipline, according to the University of Maryland.
Allen and Madden surveyed college students and found that 65 percent said the main goal of hazing was to bring people together and create a bond.
At some campuses, including the University of California Riverside and the University of Connecticut, fraternities and sororities have been expelled for hazing incidents.
Two students at UC Riverside had differing views on hazing.
Justin Bronston, the vice president of his fraternity council, said hazing is taken seriously at his campus.
“We do not have tolerance for hazing and if we find out a fraternity is hazing, they will get kicked off campus,” Bronston said.
Bronston said athletic teams and Greek Life organizations are tight-knit communities.
“I think hazing is most common in Greek Life because you’re joining something special, like a family,” he said. “It is not something anyone can join and it is a more selective thing. Not just hazing, but having a process that pushes people and brings people closer, is what makes teams and Greek life so close together.”
Julia Schemmer, a student leader at UC Riverside, said that while hazing is condemned by her college, she has heard about fraternity and sorority pledges who have had to drink too much, work long hours and complete undesirable tasks such as cleaning an entire fraternity house.
“Over-drinking is currently thought of as the most common form of hazing since hazing is technically banned on campus,” she said. “I’ve noticed most students putting so much focus into getting into the Greek Life that their health and their grades are quickly declining. Both of these have extreme effects on the life of a college student.”
Lipkins has found that hazing is underreported, and Schemmer agrees.
“The reason college students do not immediately see hazing as such a terrible thing and report it is most people have such expectations for college and for their college experience,” she said. “They have an ideal college experience and they don’t realize when it crosses the line.”
Amanda Gardner is a student at Bishop Ireton High School, Virginia