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Hazing and Our Culture

The final explanation for the persistence of hazing I will analyze is cultural factors. For too long, our culture has allowed hazing to continue. In some instances, our culture has actually encouraged it. It is within this atmosphere of acceptance that hazing is able to thrive. An examination of public reaction to hazing activities reveals that many people are fine with it (especially when it only involves males), because they believe it is simply “par for the course.”
A 2006 article from the Anthropology and Education Quarterly perfectly captures this unfortunate view of many communities. The piece focuses on a particular case of hazing that took place in a football locker room. In the story, the team’s quarterback hazes another student in a vulgar act that is indisputably sexual harassment and abuse. Attempting to stomp out hazing at the school, a school administrator expelled the quarterback. Afterward, it was quickly apparent that most of the school community not only overlooked the actions as being a major concern, many actually condoned the hazing. Besides a select few, the majority of the community was furious about the quarterback’s expulsion and believed it to be unwarranted. Students threatened to leave the school and teachers spoke out against the administrator’s decision.
In the end, due to the public’s outrage, the quarterback was allowed to come back and re-enroll in the school. Simultaneously, the victim had to transfer schools in an effort to get away from the unsupportive school community. This is a perfect example of why hazing is allowed to continue in our schools. While very few supported the helpless victim, there were plenty who were ready to defend the horrendous actions of the offender. This hardly sends the message that hazing is wrong and should be prevented.
Shockingly, there are countless identical reports of support for hazing that come from communities all around the country. In a great number of cases, our culture frequently blames the victim rather than the offenders. Victims who expose hazing are commonly despised for any punishment that their actions bring to other players, coaches or the team as a whole. In fact, the knowledge alone of this cultural climate is one thing that discourages many victims from opening up about their situation in the first place. Accordingly, hazing persists in our society because we allow it to. Moving forward, hazing will be impossible to stop without widespread support from communities throughout the U.S.
These cultural circumstances present obvious possibilities for impeding hazing. If public support for hazing and hazers can be undercut, we will be one considerable step closer to eliminating it. One way to transform the hazing culture is to establish strict, precise rules against hazing and then enforce them judiciously. It is only fair to formalize the rules and keep people informed of them before hazing takes place, as opposed to making them up after an incident occurs. Research shows that the punishments for hazing are not announced properly by a majority of schools. Meanwhile, 89 percent of students think that it would be helpful for colleges to inform their group of the consequences if hazing were to occur. This will also give schools a code of conduct to fall back on and point to as basis for rulings. Not having a set of rules against hazing caused problems for one Pennsylvania school when it found it was unable to punish football players involved in hazing due to its lack of a documented policy.
Moreover, it is vital to enforce these rules without exception. As soon as allowances in the rules are made to please the public, the entire system becomes tarnished and feeble. Such exceptions will begin to send mixed signals as to what is acceptable. Another line of attack to conquer the present culture is to address hazing incidents publicly and send a message through stern punishments. By handling the matters openly, schools will keep the community knowledgeable as to its intolerance of hazing. When matters are dealt with silently, there is nothing done to prevent future violations. Additionally, levying serious penalties will discourage others from hazing due to a fear of repercussions. With these tactics implemented, communities will be on the right path to changing their cultural perception of hazing.

Student President
Rocco Zambito, Jr.

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