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Hazing Comprehension

Due to poor comprehension of what constitutes hazing and the unwillingness of most to report the acts, hazing frequently occurs without proper documentation. A recent study on hazing in college athletics is among the most extensive ever performed on the issue and helps bring to light many truths of the matter.
Results from the study show that when it comes to college athletes, those who are not hazed are actually the minority. Not only did 70 percent of varsity athletes admit participation in hazing behavior, 60 percent of club-sport members did as well. One would wonder how so much hazing could fly under the radar of the general public. The particularly surprising answer is that even the majority of those being hazed do not realize it. In the study, only 12 percent of college athletes explicitly answered that they had been hazed. However, another 67 percent detailed undergoing behaviors that are considered hazing. Yet, these students did not acknowledge that they had been hazed because they did not realize the actions were in fact considered hazing. Furthermore, of the general student population, up to 90 percent of those who have actually been hazed do not believe they have been hazed. These figures show that a better understanding of hazing is needed not only by bystanders, but also by those involved with hazing. One way of doing this is to outline some of the actions considered hazing.
With a definition as broad as hazing, the actions that fall into the category are almost endless. Hazing has a long history, with the first reported incident coming in 1923 at Hobart College. That episode consisted of the beating of a freshman football player, who two older players proceeded to throw into a lake. A few of the tactics used for the purpose of hazing include physical abuse, forced actions that endanger victims, mental harassment, public or private humiliation, sexual acts and degradation.
Another common connection with hazing is the consumption of alcohol, commonly as the forced drinking of copious amounts. Indeed, three recent studies at separate universities show that between 35 percent and 40 percent of hazing involves drinking games or forced alcohol consumption. Another growing aspect of hazing is the use of the Internet to post pictures and videos of the events to increase embarrassment. A number of high profile cases have revealed how despicable the actions of hazing can be.
In 2003, the Northwestern University women’s soccer team made headlines when a night of hazing included sexual exploits, players being tied up, forced exercise and underage drinking. Making the matter even worse, humiliating pictures of the events were subsequently posted online by veteran players.
Other less outrageous actions can also have serious negative effects. At least one coach realizes the importance of stopping any and all forms of hazing. New York state football coach Dave Falco says of his team, “There’s no hazing at all. No singing songs, no push-ups, no carrying water or equipment, nothing. It always starts with the little things”. It is important to give these incidents as much consideration as those that shock us, as they both are harmful to students. It is quite possible that proper hazing education is the first major step to preventing it.

– Rocco Zambito, Jr.
Student President

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