It's About Time…

Ask yourself, kids…is the pleasure of hazing someone worth two years in jail?
This qualifies as something a long time coming.  Pretty soon, folks will find a way to shut all this nonsense down.  Maybe, just maybe, the threat of doing some time will get these cats to sip on some of that ackrite.
I guess I’m lost on this stuff because I can’t imagine wanting to be down with anything so much that you’d go through this.  There is nothing I want so bad to get treated like this.  Really, can somebody help me out?
But uhhh…how long will it be, if it ain’t happened already, before we see crimson and cream “Stop Snitchin'” t-shirts?

44 thoughts on “It's About Time…”

  1. While I haven’t seen any stop snitching “greek” shirts, the backlash to the anti-hazing movement began long before I pledged back in 2000.
    This recent decision will have the same affect that past similar decisions have had: 1) It will lead some chapters to cut down on their “pledging” or all out eliminate it and 2) It will lead other chapters to become increasingly more secretive and “better” at hiding what they are doing.

  2. You’ve got a group of X strangers at the beginning of a semester.
    By the end of the semester you want them to be so tight they are inseparable.
    How do you accomplish this goal?
    Though I cannot speak on white fraternity hazing activities, I can speak with expertise on black ones. They operate and WORK for a reason.

  3. Luckily when I went Greek, my chapter had only been on campus for 7 years–and they decided from the beginning they wouldn’t haze. Other than that, or a couple of jokers getting tossed in the clink, it’s tough to eradicate hazing.
    Upperclassmen feel like “I had to go through it, so they will, too…” and so on and so on. I had a psych professor give a lecture on why hazing persists–something to do with the tougher it is to get into an organization, the more a person feels justified in the actions taken to be accepted. The example he used was people standing out in the freezing cold to get into a club.
    I personally never got it–how are you going to call yourself my brother and then beat the piss out of me?

  4. When did “hazing” become a code word for “homoerotic fetish games”? Seriously…it seems like a stretch to have semi-grown men beating each other and claiming it’s somehow connected to brotherhood.
    By an extreme extension, if I stomp on someone’s skull, does that make him my best friend?

  5. Kirk it isn’t important that they be inseparable…unless you can’t come up with another method that accomplishes the same goal over 100 years (and all told about 700,000 members combined).
    “I could see where hazing would be useful in the military or in some sort of long term, life and death circumstance. College ain’t that…”
    Why would it be useful in those circumstance, but not for black men in college? The population perhaps MOST in need of brotherhood?
    Rather than write a long entry, do me a favor and check out what Mike wrote. Mike and I are in different fraternities, but we agree here. There is no better way to take strangers and forge a tight bond amongst them than forced hardship.

  6. I think I’ve posted about this before, but in college, a dormmate of mine jumped from his fourth floor dorm room window (with calculated bouncing off of window ledges) to escape his brothers’ hazing as he saw them coming up the sidewalk and stairwell.
    No thanks!

  7. I don’t agree with the extent of what happened with these Florida boys, but I do believe that some sort of pledge process is necessary to create the type of cohesion needed for a fraternity to successfully exist.
    When done right, there are few other ways to get a complete group of strangers on one accord by the end of the semester – and KEEP them on the same page, as much as possible, until they graduate and more often than not, post-graduation.
    Not to dismiss anyone’s opinion who doesn’t agree or understand, but long before I pledged I accepted the fact that some people will never understand what it is that makes perfect sense to me and mine regarding this issue.

  8. Kirk, I cannot speak about white fraternities and sororities. What I know is that the pledging process of black and latino fraternities and sororities are designed to build a bond that approximates that of the military. And that bond–given the larger context of white supremacy–is one that builds group cooperation, group initiative, and group loyalty. At its best that bond is stronger than steel.
    Again I’m pretty hardcore as to the ends–I want Brothers who will go to the ends of the earth for me. As far as the means I am being more utilitarian than anything else.
    Present me an alternative that bonds strangers together after only 10 weeks or so and I’ll gladly consider it. (And Garner, it isn’t as if I haven’t thought about “alternative means” myself.)
    Dave, I’m not greek. I am in a fraternity. I’ve got a wife, FIVE CHILDREN, and a phd. I’ve never smoked weed or any other illegal substance in my life. Beer makes me sick.
    By the time I was 21 I had already met the woman who would become my wife. Just because we can SOMETIMES be confused with Animal House in black, doesn’t mean we’re on the same groove.

  9. Dave, your activities and your perception of “greek life” is very different from what I experienced as a member of a historically black fraternity. I’m not saying that no black fraternities indulge in what it is that you think greekness is. I just know that my experience – and the vast majority of those that I know in the same or comparable organizations – was very different from the image often portrayed in popular culture.
    To learn more about the groups I’m talking about I suggest you read “The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities”
    by Lawrence C. Ross Jr. and the fraternity and sororities chapter in “Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class” by Lawrence Otis Graham.

  10. Lester, why is it important that they be inseparable? Besides, I’ve had and do have a number of very close friends. It’s never required a WWE chair shot to the dome to create that bond.
    I can see where hazing would be useful in the military or in some sort of long term, life and death circumstance. College ain’t that.

  11. Rattler alumni have been kicking this one around since the story first broke last March. Every argument I’ve read here has been posed by one person or another since then.
    During my era at FAMU (’78 – ’82), you pretty much understood that Omegas and Kappas hazed, Alphas ran and ran and ran, and Sigmas were a very small presence at that time.
    The problem is that immature frat boys are in charge of pledging the next line. There is this tendency to compare joining a social fraternity to military boot camp. But Drill Sergeants themselves are trained to achieve a specific objective with the recruits, so that they will eventually follow orders in the field without question, even in the face of mortal danger. There is no equivalent need for frats, so it generally turns into the sadistic whims of the big brothers to see how much the pledgees are willing to take.
    I never joined a frat, but had close friends in all the frats. The argument that the pledge process makes people tight is a little weak, because for the most part, my friendships did not change after my friends crossed, and in many instances, guys didn’t necessarily like the people they pledged with, before or after.
    I don’t know how many of you followed the details of this case, but the big brothers went well across the line. My father and brother, both Kappas (made the old-fashioned way), shook their heads when I told them about the Alpha Xi chapters’ 7-year suspension and the arrests of the K-5. They were of the opinion that pledging had stopped, since it was the directive from the national office.
    As far as the “work of the organization,” let’s be real, for undergraduate chapters, it’s all about the social life, a canned goods drive at Thanksgiving notwithstanding. I’ll bet less than half of the members continue to be active in the fraternity once they leave the college campus. Most of the community service work frat members do after college is with other citizens in the community, perhaps through their church or other community organization, not necessarily their frat.

  12. Be careful with the generalizations. Many chapters do WAY more than the occasional food drive. I can’t begin to tell you the number and the magnitude of the things my chapter and other organizations on my campus did. We’d like to think that we were exceptional :), but we know we weren’t necessarily an anomaly.
    A healthy pledge process does not guarantee across the board cohesion, but it greatly increases the probability of it when compared to chapters that have a 2 hour initiation process.
    And just because one is not active in a chapter post graduation, does not mean they aren’t doing the work of the organization. The ideals of these organizations transcend the organizations themselves.

  13. In the circumstance(s) I referred to, “brotherhood” is often relied upon to prevent death or serious injury. You’d have to have an awfully convincing argument for me to believe that that’s how college is for anyone, except in the most extreme of examples.
    I’m not arguing against the goal, I’m arguing against the means. Beating someone to create a sense of belonging is no more sensible than raping someone to earn their love.
    And yes, I know no one is advocating rape. It’s only an analogy.

  14. Well maybe everybody’s right and you’re wrong. LOL.
    But nah seriously. I didn’t go to FAMU with you so I can’t comment on what you think you saw/knew, but I’ll argue that since your perception was from the outside looking in, that it’s probably not a very accurate one. And besides, your frame of reference is 25 years old. God knows FAMU is a different place in 07 than it was then, so some of the frats/sororities could be too … some of them.

  15. Lester–can’t the group of strangers arrive at the goal of inseparability by alternate means?
    While I agree that shared adversity, and standing together in the face of that adversity bonds a group of men like nothing other, why does that adversity have to be violence? I agree with Kirk–we’re not talking about guys defending the forests outside of Bastogne–we’re talking about a group of guys trying to compile 120 credit hours.
    There are ways to get a group to face adversity without beating them–and in addition to the group bonding, the pledges don’t end up losing respect for their older fraternity brothers. Sports teams, shared tasks, etc. are just a few examples.

  16. I drank shitty beer and chased girls all of my college career. What’s so special about doing it with some greek letters on your sweatshirt? Does the pot get you higher? I know that’s the smart ass knee jerk reaction of the non-greek, but seriously, what’s so great about a frat that you want to get your ass kicked just to join?

  17. Um…what the hell did I just click on…
    Lester…I covered higher ed for 3 1/2 years, and I can tell you that the white fraternities are just as bad as the black ones…So race isn’t an issue here.
    Heck, Southeastern La. University has LAWSUITS dealing with this stuff and issues close to it…
    IMO, hazing is just recycled “breaking” tactics used to mold a certain group of people into a certain mode of thinking….kinda like that 400-year period called the African Diaspora, Slavery, Middle Passage, yaddah yaddah. But who’s counting here?
    I would compare being in a fraternity to being in the military. Two toooooootally different frames of reference. People undergo their training in the military primarily on the basis of “kill or be killed” and “combat survival.” I have friends that are in fraternities, and “kill or be killed” is the furthest thing from their minds.
    Besides, I have not met a member of the Divine Nine that knows Krav Maga or the Sambo submission style or Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, dig. I have met some former special forces guys, and my cousin showed me some things Uncle Sam (the REAL dean of pledges, if you will) taught him in order to survive.
    I’m out….y’all continue discussing…
    P.S.: Bout dem boys at FAMU. I just have two things to say about that.
    1. They shoulda known the law. Hazing statues are in every college handbook and I know colleges spend money to tell their Pan-Hellenic Councils about this, because that stuff cost universities thousands and thousands of dollars if some frat gets a little Medieval on someone’s son.
    2. They went to FAMU, so they just ain’t know any better (I apologize for that potshot, but I couldn’t resist).

  18. Most people forge lifelong friendships in college without having to engage in barbaric, homoerotic (or explicitly homosexual) brutalization. Black male solidarity doesn’t necessitate this childish bullshit.
    I’ve encountered many stories of black “mentors” beating down kids (some as young as 15) to “make them men.” That’s not guidance, that’s sadistic criminal perversion.

  19. No Kirk. I understand we differ. That’s fine.
    But get the argument right.
    There are a number of ways to forge a bond between individuals. But there are not that many ways to forge a bond in a very short period of time (ten weeks) between strangers. Every way I am familiar with involves shared hardship.
    Fred, I made mention of white fraternities not to talk about whether they are better or worse…but to simply note that I have no idea how they operate, or how hazing works or does not work for them. I speak about black fraternities and sororities because that is what I know and that is what I have studied.
    The problem, as Cobb has so correctly noted, isn’t the method it is the training behind the method.

  20. There’s nothing that anybody can do to unwire the hardwiring of human instinct. People bond through hardship, period. It is a constant throughout human history, and it is one that blackfolks in America understand very well. People may not like the extent to which this fact of human nature is used for purposes which they find ‘senseless’, but they should question the ends, not the process.
    The only legitimate question about hazing is whether or not it is done properly. As Brotherbrown has patiently explained, these fools went off the deep end. They misused the tool, but that has no bearing on the effectiveness of the tool of hazing itself.
    Furthermore you cannot generalize what one frat did at one school with what another does at another. Again, the constant is what hazing does and whether its done well and whether people understand the context of the violence inherent in the process. Anyone who thinks that pain cannot be constructive simply is ignorant of human nature.

  21. If the only way that a person, or group of people, can create a bond is through pain and abuse, then those people are actually weak (Fred, while we’re on outrageous examples, you forgot Nazi Germany).
    Cobb is only partially correct. People do bond through hardship, yes. However, that bond is typically strongest when that hardship is either forced upon them, or when the stakes are particularly high.
    In my opinion, getting ridiculed for not letting someone spank you in a “fraternal” circle jerk doesn’t qualify as high stakes.

  22. According to this logic, the people who try to unite communities against racism and homophobia by staging phony hate crimes perform a valuable service.
    Kirk is on point.
    It’s one thing for people to come together as a result of a shared adversity imposed on them from without. It’s another thing for people to manufacture this adversity, especially in ridiculous, juvenile ways that involve sadistic violence and what amounts to sexual abuse.
    A solidarity created through mutual interests, respect, and goals will always be deeper and more meaningful than one created through imposing/enduring unnecessary abuse.

  23. I’m not sure what it is that many of you think happens in most fraternities, but it sounds like your perception is off … way off.
    These isolated incidents are not the norm. But its all good. Like I said in an earlier posts, I’ve accepted that many will never understand what makes perfect sense to me.

  24. Ironically, the very day of the verdict in this case, news broke of the arrest of four members of Sigma Phi Epsilon at Florida State, across town from FAMU, who had 31 pledgees covered in filth and in a crawl space under a house in 30 degree weather. Just in case you were wondering what hazing means in white fraternities.
    ETS, I admire your, ’til-the-day-I-die spirit. And you are right, I cannot comment about what goes on inside. But don’t pretend like the view from where I sit is a misperception; it is what it is, I see what I see.

  25. Thanks man … I guess its a product of being pledged … correctly.
    Didn’t mean to say that you are misperceiving anything. You’re right, you perceive exactly what you see. I’m just saying you don’t see everything.

  26. One of the significant differences between black and white fraternities is that black members generally view their membership as a lifetime thing. They may not be FINANCIAL members…but once an X, always an X. Given this Dave, I would be very surprised if the scenario you depicted (brothers not liking other brothers in their own chapter) was a normal one within black fraternities.
    And also I’m not telling you why you’d want to do anything. What I said at the outset was that I thought Bomani was giving the concept of pledging short shrift. I’ve talked about the hundreds of thousands of members before. There is a reason why some of the most powerful black men in history both join fraternities AND choose to be pledged.
    Rather than focus on why you or Bo might want to do what I had to do to get in–a senseless conversation to me–I think it more important to talk about this in sociological and anthropological terms. This mode of organization-entry (“pledging”) is as old as time. In black organizations it is much more akin to African secret societies than it is to slavery.
    Why has it existed for so long? This case is an OBVIOUS example of where it goes wrong. But there is no way in hell that so many people could willingly choose to undergo it…and it have absolutely no positive value. Pledging works. The question is why? We can say something like “some people are weak and need it.”
    But then you look at people like Ronald McNair, Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, etc….and there is nothing weak about them. The last issue of Black Enterprise featured two of my chapter brothers on the cover. Made men….the both of them. Weakness is not the predominant attribute of these men.
    So what role does it fill? Why does it work? Only then can we get to the question of “what do we replace it with”?
    (Brotherbrown, black fraternity hazing crimes will usually involve physical trauma, and alcohol abuse. The type of hazing you noted occurs very rarely in black fraternities.)

  27. But then you look at people like Ronald McNair, Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, etc….and there is nothing weak about them.
    Depends on how closely you look, although I’m not going there.
    Whether they became what they became as a result of being in a fraternity is speculative…I know of some frat boys who are straight criminals.

  28. Let’s get it straight – violence in fraternities is unnecessary, period.
    In no way should the ends justify the means in this case.
    Some frats I’m familiar with make you the designated driver all night, others make you the house bitch – you gotta go get the guys food, go grocery shopping for them, etc. May sound ridiculous, but it’s way better than beating someone up and being proud of it.
    I hope those assholes sit in jail and think about how this happened. Clearly, some people don’t understand what constitutes brotherhood and stupidity.

  29. Ok, I’m willing to admit that my generalization was way too stereotypical (hey, at least I didn’t use the generic “I don’t have to pay for my friends” line) but I still have yet to hear why anyone would want to go through the hazing to join. I have freinds who were in frats and they really didn’t like about 40% of their brothers. So please tell me, why would I want to get beaten up to join a group whose members I may or may not like? It just seems counterproductive to abuse a person for a year who you will ask to be your brother and stand by you through thick and thin a year later. I know that many frats do a lot of good things, but I can do those things too without the threat of bodily harm.
    Somebody enlighten me, please.

  30. Graduate school is an inherently demeaning process…with very few moments of insight. Does that mean that the decision to get a PhD is suspect, and that the value of grad school is compromised?
    Kirk and Brown I actually wasn’t trying to make a causal claim, but rather to deconstruct one. The “natural” position to take regarding fraternities and their intake process is that people who join them have some sort of significant character flaw that causes them to choose to join an organization that hazes.
    I don’t buy this argument at all…even though some of my best friends are straight criminals. It doesn’t hold weight theoretically–and I’m willing to bet it doesn’t hold weight empirically. Someone like Martin Luther King jr. very well may have been King without A-Phi-A. But he wasn’t flawed because he chose to join the way he did. I’d argue the opposite.

  31. I’ve never assume a character flaw in people who join a fraternity: the first great man I knew, my father, joined a fraternity while in college, and so did many of his friends. He neither encouraged nor discouraged my brothers and me to join the frat, and my younger brother chose to join.
    While my brother was pledging, he had the misfortune of getting socked in the eye, so he walked around for a week withe a black-eye. If we had been at the same university, and a “big brother” did that to my true little brother, he probably would have made an enemy of me, because I was raised to protect family, and we didn’t grow up hitting each other.
    A fraternity experience can be a character-builder, there is no doubt about it. But frats have to be careful not to cross over into gang initiation tactics.

  32. Or, are those men strong and successful independently of, or even in spite of, their fraternal associations? I think you’re coming dangerously close to the wrong side of the correlation/causation line. There are men that join fraternities and do quite well for themselves. That is true. There are also men who join fraternities and ultimately end up as rapists, murderers, homeless, and even the “average joe”.
    So, yes some people clearly realize a value from joining a fraternity, and that’s fine. However, if that value is realized at the expense of one’s personal dignity and well-being, then it is a net loss, and their decision making is suspect at best.

  33. Well it looks like I have to concede the point because I have been looking at it too broadly. The only time you hear about frats is when some assholes take hazing too far and it makes the news. While this is tragic, I admit that they do not speak for everyone.
    It’s just that from my experience, frats are where GPA’s go to die. I found plenty of trouble and distractions on my own in college. I was just wondering why anyone would want to subject themselves to torment for the same experince. I still would like to know what the allure of fraternity life is. What value does it add to the college experience?

  34. I let everyone have their say, and now let me have mine. If you pledge people outside of your organizations’ bylaws, then you have broken your oath. Period.

    Lawrence C. Ross, Jr.
    The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities (author)
    The Ways of Black Folks: A Year in the Life of a People (author)
    Friends With Benefits (author)

    M.F.A. Candidate, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television

  35. I plan to join in orgainzation in the spring. There are many streotypes and perceptions of what black sorortites and frats are, but truth be told, until you are actually are apart of one, you cannot accurately comment. I am joining “attempting” to join this organization because I feel obligated to. I love being black, and by joining a organization it justifies that so much more.These women and men came together to form lifelong bonds and committments for specific reasons, if I have to tell you what they are then obviously greek life is not for you.

Leave a Comment

Sorry this site is not allow to view source.
Scroll to Top