A presentation focusing on the serious problem of hazing on college campuses attracted a full audience to Hubbell Auditorium last night. Associate Dean of Students at Cornell University Travis Apgar presented ‘Hazing: The Fallout,” which discussed the negative effects of hazing, especially in fraternities, sororities and varsity teams.
Though the issue of hazing has not risen lately at UR, according to senior Leslie Dube, president of the Panhellenic Association and member of the varsity lacrosse team, she admitted that there is hazing on campus.
Apgar discussed numerous points concerning the physical and mental effects of hazing. Mentally, hazing breaks the recipient down and makes him or her feel worthless in an effort to rebuild his or her character in the ideal of the recipient’s given organization.
This tactic, Apgar believes, is actually counterproductive in creating positive character. Rather, the mental distress of hazing induces negative behavior and attitudes for the individual involved and for the community.
Hazing can sometimes agitate or induce depression in some, while in others it can have little or no effect. Apgar cited his own depression was made worse by indecent hazing rituals. Physically, ‘Hazing hurts,” Apgar stressed as he displayed photos of welts from paddle beatings. In addition, he cited two examples of students who, during initiation rites, drank themselves to death.
Most students, Apgar said, just want to be accepted. Hazing rituals and acts are never performed under the guidelines or permission of any accredited fraternity, sorority or varsity sports team, yet new members still go through it.
Even subtle hazing can ‘snowball and become out of control,” he said. Instead of re-enforcing the fraternal values of these associations, hazing threatens the sanctity of the credos such as brotherhood, sisterhood and culture.
The presumed goals of hazing are bonding with groups, completing rites of passage, educating new members and keeping with tradition. But the negative measures of this form of punishment result in the exact opposite. Apgar cited a recent survey of varsity team members, fraternity brothers and sorority sisters who were hazed 69 percent of those hazed felt less like part of the group, 78 percent felt no sense of accomplishment, 82 percent did not feel stronger and 85 percent did not feel like they did better in classes.
According to Apgar, hazing is a counterproductive measure that accentuates the weakness of those who induce and receive punishment. He said that strength really lies in the ability to end the cycle of hazing by refusal to receive or induce this punishment. Perpetuating this cycle of hazing just because it is tradition is inadequate justification for this torture.
Apgar proposed a solution to building a stronger team, fraternity or sorority without hazing: the Positive Challenge Concept. This alternative, according to Apgar, creates a fraternity with a community of trust and support to positively challenge character. He suggested bonding by outdoor activities.
Alpha Phi Sorority member and junior Lindsay Wood reacted to Agpar’s lecture.
‘He was very knowledgeable and engaging,” Wood said. ‘He had a very interesting personal story about how hazing has affected his life, and I think it touched all of us. I think people took what he said to heart and will take back to their groups his anti-hazing message.”
Karron is a member of the class of 2011.