The views expressed in this piece are that of the individual writer and not necessarily that of Her Campus.
So you’ve joined a sorority. You’re looking forward to a semester of mixers and big/little bonding, and, of course, you’ve prepped yourself for a little good-natured hazing. After all, it is the best way to bond with your new sisters, right?
September 23-27 was National Hazing Prevention Week. Greek organizations at campuses all over the country came together to raise awareness of hazing and encourage their fellow Greeks to not engage in this "tradition." But just because Hazing Prevention Week is over doesn’t mean the conversation should stop. Hazing is a very serious problem on many campuses, and I for one am in full support of ending this cycle. As a member of a sorority, I cannot imagine being forced to do anything in order to earn the love and respect of my sisters. That’s why I was so shocked and disgusted when I read the article “Confession: Why Getting Hazed by my Sorority Was Weirdly Worth It” on Cosmopolitan’s website.
In the article, Tess Koman explains why she is glad her sorority hazed her. She says she felt "ashamed and a little gross" the things she was forced to do a pledge—from dancing for frat boys to being locked in rooms and screamed at for not trying hard enough—and says pledging was “one of the best and worst decisions” she ever made.
So why was it worth it? Because of the bond she and her sisters formed... through shared humiliation and suffering.
I am a member of Alpha Chi Omega at Columbia University. You may be skeptical, but I can honestly say I have never been hazed. My sisters and I consider hazing to be a form of domestic violence. Since domestic violence awareness and support is our philanthropy, we take it very seriously. I remember when I joined Alpha Chi Omega my sophomore year, I was shocked to find out I didn't even need to wear my new member pin every day. I had heard stories from my friends at other schools who rushed freshman year and was surprised - maybe even a little disappointed - that my new sisters weren't going to make me do anything. After all, that was part of the stereotype: bonding through embarrassing or pointless activities forced upon us by our sisters.
Now, as a senior, I look back on that time and realize how lucky I was. I found a group of women who liked me for me. They are my friends because they are my sisters, not because I let them call me humiliating names or danced in front of frat boys for them. My pledge class bonded through new member sleepovers and nail polish parties, not mandatory lock-ins. I have a wonderful big, two perfect littles and two fantastic grand-littles, and I didn't have to earn them through constant self-debasement. Resentment of the older members was not something we had to move past because it was not built into any of our traditions.
Hazing is anything but a sign of respect. It is a display of violence and disrespect towards the people who are supposed to be your family.
In her article, Koman recalls thinking that pledging was "tradition, so why should anyone be the exception?" We should all be the exception. Going Greek is not about proving yourself to other people by obeying their every command and allowing them to humiliate you. It's not even about partying or wearing matching T-shirts. It's about finding a group of men or women who love and accept you, and about finding a family on campus that shares your values and will be there for you no matter what.
Hazing is a serious problem. If you or someone you know is being hazed, call the National Anti-Hazing Hotline at 1-888-NOT-HAZE (1-888-668-4293).