A Boston University sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, has been suspended after an alleged hazing incident.
On March 3rd, the campus police were called when multiple women were found wandering the streets so drunk that they needed hospital care. Reports suggest that the women were forced to drink heavily as part of a hazing ritual.
The sorority asserts that the incident was not indicative of the entire sorority, but rather a small group of women acting independently.
“Hazing,” of course, is considered an initiation act that involves intimidation and harassment, both physically and emotionally. The term refers mostly to college sororities and fraternities who engage in this behavior, but also takes place in gangs, sports teams and sometimes even the workplace.
While fraternities are most known for their use of physical abuse, sororities often use psychological and emotional tactics to humiliate their new members.
It’s not surprising - women and men seem to express their rage differently. While some women and girls sometimes use physical violence against their target, actual fist fights are more common among men and boys.
Girls usually resort to name calling, spreading rumors and turning other women and girls against their victim.
Are these same girls from middle school and high school the ones who turn into young adults, then join sororities so they can impose their will more aggressively? What makes a woman want to wreak havoc on the lives of her peers?
I was in a sorority for two years before I transferred colleges and joined the Ohio University School of Dance. The dance department was like my own sweet sorority. We were close like “sisters,” and ran an organization that held philanthropic and community events around town.
Before that, at Ohio Wesleyan University, I joined Kappa Kappa Gamma. We didn’t live in the house; it was used as a gathering place for our weekly meetings. There wasn’t any hazing involved, nothing even remotely close. We raised money for our charity, held parties with fraternities and that was pretty much all.
I’m not sure why hazing didn’t occur there, although I suspect it had something to do with the small student body (about 1600 students when I attended). A higher percentage of students joined sororities and fraternities, which gave “greek” life a more inclusive feel. On large campuses, only a small percentage of students are selected, which feels elite and exclusive.
In researching this topic, I learned about some of the most abhorrent hazing rituals. Below are just a few examples of how sorority women exert their power over “pledges.”
- “Body-Critiquing Assembly” - This is when women are forced to take off their clothes and stand in front of a house full of fraternity members. The men critique the women’s bodies, letting them know where they need “work.” The sorority sisters then circle those areas with a Sharpie marker.
- “Cocaine or Dildo” - In this self-explanatory ritual, women are forced to either use cocaine or a dildo in front of their “sisters.”
- “Boob-Ranking” - New members strip to their bras and line in up in order of breast size. Smaller women are then humiliated for their body type.
These bizarre rituals have been around for so long that I have no idea how they could possibly stop. The behavior only seems to have grown worse. In addition to the aforementioned reports, women in this day and age have described being beaten so badly (with a paddle) that they have gone to the hospital to seek treatment for their injuries.
The Dean of Students at BU, Kenneth Elmore, was particularly disappointed in the latest incident, as he had just met with student organization leaders in January, including those in the “greek” population, to discuss hazing and assert that it had no place on their campus.
It seems as though women and girls now gain attention and even credibility for inflicting emotional and physical pain on others. These women and girls think of themselves as strong and powerful.
Although I wasn’t a bully in the traditional sense, and I never hazed anyone, I did unleash my anger physically and emotionally onto several of my peers. I knew even then that I didn’t feel strong or powerful. I wept most nights for the rage I felt and didn’t understand. I begged forgiveness until I eventually pushed people away completely.
It wasn’t until I analyzed and unraveled my anger that I began to comprehend it. Then, I began to express my anger in an appropriate way. And that healthy self-expression is what felt, and continues to feel, truly empowering.