Column: Things Are Getting Far Too Hazy
Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
In the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Janet Reitman explores the hazing culture of fraternities at Dartmouth in her compelling piece “Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth’s Hazing Abuses.” It tells the story of Andrew Lohse, a whistle blower who may have been motivated by more than a moral desire to change the culture of Greek street.
This piece begs us to look at our own hazing culture at BC and breathe a sigh of relief. Yes, some organizations turn new members into walking billboards for an upcoming event or show up at a rookie’s door in the middle of the night to chug a bottle of Andre, but it’s not nearly as demanding and degrading as swimming in filth and downing Solo cup after Solo cup of cheap beer. There’s some sort of wonder at what these frats do to promote unity amongst members, and many leaders of organizations here at BC have a desire to replicate this.
And who can blame them? The loyalty and community of the frat house is truly awe-inspiring. It comes, though, at far too great a cost. At BC, we pride ourselves on care of the whole person, and being men and women for others. It would be impossible for us to make these claims about ourselves as individuals or as a University if we partook in or even knew about the type of hazing that occurs in fraternity basements. There has got to be a better way to build community than puking on each other after ripping too many shots of Rubinoff.
As the president of Swing Kids, I have found it difficult to promote a sense of community amongst my members. I think forcing them to use a urine slip and slide could help, but that is simply not what we do, and no organization affiliated with BC should either. The best way I have found to make people feel as if they are members of an exclusive subculture is to have them overcome challenges together. The frat boys have gross initiation rites and the Swing Kids prepare for ArtsFest. One is certainly not as intense as the other, but they will still have an unforgettable and life-altering experience without developing post-traumatic stress disorder.
When leaders of our student organizations try to replicate some of the rituals of the frat house, they are doing a disservice to their organization and to the University. BC does not have frats for a reason, and an attempt by a student organization to be one is being disingenuous to our University culture. It is important that the Friday night rituals of most BC students not be exaggerated and become mandatory for participation in student groups.
I know some of our clubs do have initiation rites—I’m not suggesting that they get rid of them. They do, however, need to make sure that they do not get out of hand and remain something fun rather than an absolute necessity for full membership in a group.
We should not be fraternity wannabes. We should be BC students who work together to overcome challenges and become an even tighter knit community. No matter how close we become as members of student organizations, residence halls, or the University, we must never let our closeness work for the exclusion of others. We are BC, and everyone should feel welcome and safe at all levels of our communities.