Fraternities are some of the most exclusive organizations at any University, and Penn is no exception. Everybody knows about ΨΥ and ΒΘΠ and ΞΦΚ. And every year, thousands of new students at Penn rush to these houses hoping to become one of the privileged brothers. But to do so, they must go through a grueling pledging process. Many brothers affectionately refer to these attempts to weed out the weaklings as “hazing.”
Since the disbanding of Beyond Hazing, a campus organization formed to crusade against such activities, hazing has been on the upswing once again. The Punch Bowl sat down with Brad from ΒΓΑΔ to investigate why fraternities haze their prospective members.
“Well, we don’t haze. But if we did engage in some initiation activities, it’s because fraternities are about camaraderie and loyalty. I would do anything for any one of my brothers, and our organization must ensure that new brothers feel the same. More than anything, it’s a tradition that brings us closer together. We do it as our brothers before us did, as their brothers before them did. That’s the best reason to do anything.”
When asked why less severe pledging traditions were not used instead, Brad responded brusquely. “It would be a slap in the face to brothers like me who went through the hazing. It is simply unfair. I risked my sanity and dignity and health, all so I could be a proud member of ΒΓΑΔ. Ending hazing would be synonymous to forgiving student loan debt or universalizing health care – insulting those who work hard at their investment banking firms to pay off their debts and earn their healthcare.”
Others members of ΒΓΑΔ had different reasons to support hazing.
“I mean, everyone says hazing is ‘an abuse of power’ and ‘degrading,” Said Gus, a new pledge. “I’m like, that’s the point? Call me a beta male that will never amount to anything. Take me to your secret basement dungeon. What are you going to do? Haze me more?”
“Exactly” Chimed in Brad. “Hazing is a healthy part of the fraternity experience, that allows our pledges to push themselves to limits they’ve never reached before. Good job, Gus. You get to sleep indoors tonight.”
From this mixed ethnographic study of two fraternity brothers, the Punch Bowl editorial team can hypothesize that fraternities haze due to a blend of psychosocial, socio-behavioral, and psychosexual motivations. Until next time!