Hazing not worth the experience

“Hazing was worth it,” said no one ever. Oh wait, Tess Koman sort of did.

Cosmopolitan ran an article last week by Tess Koman, a Union College alumna, and it was titled “Confession: Why Getting Hazed by my Sorority Was Weirdly Worth it”. The title itself made me raise an eyebrow.

In this article, Koman describes her experience while rushing the Beta Xi chapter of Sigma Delta Tau. She vividly gives detailed examples of terrible events and rituals her future sisters put her through. One of the most disturbing scenes from her article is the event called the “line-up.” 

In this event, the pledges would get a mass email telling them to be at the house in seven minutes wearing all-white clothing with their faces scrubbed clean of makeup. The sisters of the sorority, who wanted to be entertained, would then ask the pledges ridiculous and mean questions. Koman, along with her other pledges, were humiliated.

Koman’s article seems to be endorsing hazing in a weird way. 

She describes all these horrific events that she went through. She felt terrible about herself, and she even admitted to being brainwashed by the whole process. But by the end of it, she says it was worth it. 

Is it worth it to go through humiliation to get new friends? I see her point, but I don’t agree with it. Going through a personal and traumatic experience such as these girls went through could make them closer. After all, they all experienced the same hazing and survived it.  

She concludes her article with “Pledging and getting hazed is horrible. But there’s a reason it’s not going anywhere any time soon.”

I could not believe what I was reading.

Hazing should never be acceptable in any situation. The events and rituals she described in her article are terrible. Hazing can have detrimental effects to the psyche of a person and it can be extremely physically dangerous.

Tess Koman turned out safe and sound, but there have been several high-profile cases of hazing that resulted in death. In 2011, a Cornell student, George Desdunes, died after being duct-taped to a couch and being forced to drink alcohol.

But it is completely possible to form close bonds with friends without hazing. 

The bond that I have with my friends was not formed through “line-ups,” verbal abuse or humiliation. We would hang out and do activities that never made us feel uncomfortable or potentially in danger. 

Tess and I both found a friend group that we can rely on and trust, but we each got there in two totally different paths.   

Publishing this article by Cosmo was not a very good move on their part. Isn’t Cosmo supposed to be a magazine for women and empowering women? 

Running articles that endorse hazing is not good for girls who are interested in joining Greek life. Cosmo might have viewed Koman’s story as empowering because she was able to open up about a process she went through that is often frowned upon, and she was even proud of it.

Granted, not every sorority or fraternity has a hazing process. Koman might have just been an unfortunate exception at the sorority in Union College. But according to a 2008 study by the University of Maine, hazing is more prevalent to just be an exception: More than half of college students involved in clubs, teams and organizations experience hazing. 

This study shows that hazing is not exclusive to Greek life. Just recently, Cornell University officials announced that hazing resulted in the cancellation of the men’s lacrosse team’s fall season. College officials say that at a team party, freshmen team members were made to stand in a circle and drink beer to the point where several members vomited.

So why is hazing found in organizations such as sports teams and sororities? Perhaps it’s due to the phenomenon called groupthink, where individuals in large groups are more likely to conform to the group’s values and traditions. Or perhaps it’s easier to form bonds quickly by putting people through hell and then building them back up. 

There definitely is truth behind the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Ultimately, hazing has no place in sororities that value “friendship, trust, understanding and support.”

What irks me the most is the excuse that it is a “tradition” to haze. When Koman finally became a sister, she joined in on the hazing process and put a new pledge class through hell — the same experience she had when she was pledging. This tradition is not worth keeping around.

If you join an organization, club or team that conducts a hazing process, then just leave. Friends should not harm other friends like that. No tradition such as hazing should ever be worth going through.

Thaddeus is a senior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected]