Friday, August 15, 2008
How to End Hazing, really
One man is a former student government president recruited to a fortune 500 company and new father. The other a doctorate of pharmacy candidate with numerous hours of community service. Neither man has any legal history, ever been in gangs, or trouble with the law. Yet both men are now currently in jail, convicted felons.
How did this happen? It was the trial case of a law in Florida which made hazing a felony. As a member of a National Greek Fraternity, I get asked all the time How do we end the problem of Hazing on our campuses, but is this the solution?
Hazing has a simple common sense solution. Punish everybody involved. The trouble we have with ending hazing on college campuses is that it focuses entirely on the so called "perpetrators" and creates a "victim". Parallels have been made to the victims of hazing to that of domestically abused women in that people subjugated to hazing are victims who are psychologically unable to defend themselves against their assault. As a psychiatrist, I cant wholly reject the notion that the need to fit in doesn't greatly influence a young persons mind. But also, you cant practically let a person off the hook for committing a crime simply because of peer pressure. Most people involved in hazing know way in advanced that what they are engaging in is wrong. I know in the case of my fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc.; young men sign contracts acknowledging that participation in hazing is wrong and promise to report if they encounter hazing. Plus, many college campuses hold workshops on hazing. Yet when ever there is a case like mentioned before it becomes "poor victim" and punish the "horrible criminal" that did this to you.
Lets be real. A battered woman never walked up to her husband and said beat me silly. She didn't get a card on the first date that says beware I might be crazy and should I start beating you call the police. Yet no person involved in any hazing activity entered it thinking they were doing something legal. Yet when someone cries I have been hazed, we are quick to react harshly, but half-assedly. Punishing only half the guilty party is like raiding a crack house and sending all drug dealers to prison, but saying all the crack heads caught with a pipe in their mouth shouldn't get in trouble because their addiction "isn't their fault." They knew drugs were illegal. Society has taken every step possible to educate them on the dangers of drugs, yet they chose to light up anyway. Same thing with college hazings. People know better. My question is if the family of the person hazed is entitled to money for pain and suffering; why aren't they liable for breech of contract? And if those two young men are guilty of a felony crime punishable with two years of prison, Why isn't he sitting right by them?
Want to end hazing? When you sue the organization for hazing, sue the people willingly subjecting themselves illegally to hazing too. When you expel students for hazing, expel students for allowing themselves to be hazed. Offer them the same punishment you offer everyone else involved. We need answers that don't make criminals out of people otherwise heading towards acheivement, nor do we need answers that don't hold EVERYONE involved in the problem accountable.
Makes common sense to me.