Walk through the halls of any dorm, lines of the Caf, paths of the South Oval: if you just pause to listen, you will hear it–abashed jokes, snarky comments, unconstrained laughter… and nestled among whispered remarks, a reveal of one insidious ugliness that permeates the college campus: hazing.
Everyone knows that Greek organizations still haze to this day. This awareness may not be discussed on the surface, but it’s definitely on the edge of the minds of those who are involved at least marginally with Greek life. It is difficult to tell which do, how they do it, and where.
Perhaps not every single Greek organization commits this offense, but one thing is certain: it’s definitely not just a handful of guilty organizations. Rather, it is multiple across every one of the five councils at OU.
There are numerous regulations to end hazing on campuses. However, as with various other institutions determined to preserve controversial tradition and way of life, sororities and fraternities that remain intent on hazing conceal their illegal activity and find loopholes through exploring the gray area in examining exact wording of what defines hazing. So, what about the OU required workshop about hazing, where incoming members are encouraged to report? Fear of social ostracization through ratting as a whistle-blower is not something victims are willing to come forth through taking action and consequently accept the titles of–even in the face of potential death to not only the currently bullied, but also the countless that will follow in their footsteps.
If hazing is so detrimental that guilty sororities and fraternities across the United States all over the news are under fire for many accidental deaths and mental scarring, then why would they continue with such a hazardous practice that not only endangers individuals entering but also individuals within, and the existence of the organization as a whole? The very utter of the word “hazing” and its undeniable association with Greek causes the majority of conventional society to shy away, as with other related problematic considerations not explored here.
The answer? Priority. All sororities and fraternities hold fast and tight to their so-called values and pillars—often syntactical variances of volunteerism, philanthropy, scholarship and ultimately on the highest pedestal: brotherhood and sisterhood–the top coveted, oft considered most integral component of these organizations. Standing the test of time, hazing has been the tool to quickly and completely seal such desired eternal brotherhood and sisterhood into the crevasses of their members that last for lifetimes which lead to not only the progression of their organizations socially, but also economically through continued networking and donation even after college ends.
Hazing is the seemingly perfect answer to the question of how to unite a diverse group of strangers in a single semester (less than 9 weeks by University of Oklahoma decree)–it is through shared experiences of people coming close to one another, peeling apart the many layers of the individual to expose raw self, that these seemingly organic connections are generated through artificially created circumstances conjured by each Greek organization. Using intimidation tactics, sororities and fraternities transform new members into their perfect plebeians, peasants fit to serve the will of the living royal entity, their respective Greek organizations. Each to uphold above themselves and proudly wear the name, their letters–even going as far to take a hit for the sake of keeping their reputation clean even at the cost of real pain of individuals. And it is through these individuals coming as a whole that Greek stays alive and pulsates in the blood of the prevalent who swear undying loyalty.
Earning one’s letters has a completely different meaning than when viewed from afar as they are received in blood, sweat, and tears–and not just as a simple expression of working hard, but of actually giving up these vitalities. Tie the knot of unwavering devotion in each pledge class by causing them to endure together the same bullying and mutual pain, forcing each to find strength within themselves to confront these organization-generated obstacles that often end in near death. Being pushed to the very edge and almost over it, feeling alone yet with others facing the same vulnerability, it is common for the unquestionable bond of brotherhood and sisterhood to be forged.
That is not to say that Greek life does not provide a handful of opportunities that individuals may not otherwise have accessible before, as they advertise profusely across their social media platforms and boothing. You can read all about it anywhere. But at the expense of physical health, mental health, emotional health, and sometimes preexisting relationships and academic record? All of these, for what–where do the costs end and the benefits begin, and will they ever balance each other? These are the questions that run through every members’ heads when pledging. And though an overwhelming number of people choose to remain, the answer to those questions is not unified through this decision. The majority of dissent is silenced through aforementioned dynamics as well as feelings of being alone in one’s opinion, the high potential of being unheard, and generally a perceived lack of impact.
As a person in a Greek organization, I speak from an insider perspective rather than a random outsider peering into something that is completely apart from me. Sure there are many parts of Greek that I may not realize or understand, but every word here is from my honest observations as a quiet individual among them. Additionally, my sentiments are not mine alone as I have confirmed with several others in Greek about its dark side.
A lot goes through my head as I exist with these people who inflict so much damage on others and themselves, and I contemplate how my presence is an endorsement of such behavior; a statement that I agree with everything that the organization acts upon and stands for, whether I want to project such an announcement or not. The struggle to remain as one but also be part of a whole. To shed the negativity of stereotypes on myself and my organization that come with being a member. To realize that there is justification in the negative outsider perceptions of the organization inside. The feeling of walking on eggshells when discussing Greek outside of the organization, whether it be between Greek organizations or outside of Greek life. Secrets. Too many, to carry till I die. Or to reveal to the world and risk my reputation and place in school society, my current everything.
It is in my sincere opinion that while I do not recommend anybody messing with or going Greek, those who are brave or blind enough to choose to tread this path, do so lightly. It is extremely easy to be lured into any questionable decision without being informed and enchanted by the dazzling show put on: beautiful arrangements, beaming smiles, boasting laughter, bright promises. As one knows, do not judge by the look–not all in the world is good, as there is both positive and negative with each. The devil is in the details. Know exactly what you are going into before you go in, because it may be too late for you by the time you realize, as it is for me. Be aware, beware.