Recently, I read an article titled "I Support Hazing". After the tragic death of Timothy Piazza at Penn State University due to hazing, it should be clear that now, more than ever, hazing is totally and completely unacceptable. Let's go through some of the points this author made and show why they're, for lack of better word, wrong.
"The organizations that have ritually used hazing usually don't do it just to belittle anyone that wants to join their group, they want to provide a unique experience and ensure that they will have the best new members."
So, you're telling me that the only possible way to provide a unique experience to newcomers is to haze them? You're telling me that in order to ensure you have the best new members, they have to pass a series of excruciating, humiliating and dangerous tasks? I'm sure you can provide a unique experience some other way, and I can guarantee that you are losing more potential "best" members than retaining them by forcing them to be hazed.
"You obviously want to try and join the association, so you are willing to do whatever it takes, and if it takes more than what you want to put into joining then you may simply quit."
This sounds like a job you really want asking you to put in extra hours or weekends. For some things, you will do whatever it takes and more in order to move up. This doesn't really apply when "whatever it takes" refers to being forced to abuse alcohol and be physically beaten. The requirements to join an organization meant for fun should not be to endure types of, for lack of better word, torture.
"The main problem people have with these rituals and requirements to join a fraternity, sorority, etc. is that it’s built to be an exclusive process. Well, without the element of exclusion, why join?"
I don't know? For friendship, a resume booster, because a friend recommended it? People don't join Greek life to be "exclusive", that's why there's a process that ensures that most people find an organization to join.
"Uniqueness is an attribute millennials crave to attain, and there is nothing unique about joining a group that everyone can join. There is nothing to feel proud of if there was no struggle for accomplishment. Without a hazing process, your membership is the equivalent to a participation trophy. (Congrats.)"
People don't join organizations to "feel proud". When I joined my organizations, I joined them because I was passionate about them, because they'd help me later in life and because I enjoyed them. There's no feeling of pride or accomplishment when becoming a member of an on-campus group or organization because they aren't supposed to be exclusive to the "best" people, they are supposed to provide you with a wonderful college experience. Getting into a group isn't supposed to be a reward for anything.
"Hazing builds camaraderie among those who you’re in the “suck” with. The people that are going through it build a bond between each other."
Prison builds camaraderie among those you're in a cell with. Are you also going to argue that you think going to jail just to build bonds is a smart idea? Just to be clear: Any bonds and camaraderie formed is a silver lining, a pro that comes out of the largest of cons. It is not a reason to support a terrible thing, it is a side effect.
"Our generation widely lacks respect because we have been raised to be entitled brats and hiss and moan when we don’t get something our way. My experiences taught me that I’m not entitled to jack squat that I have not worked for or earned. The constant ridicule that is a part of most hazing cultures puts your ego in check and reminds you that your excrement stink as much as everyone else’s."
In that case, is child abuse okay? Seriously. Is ridiculing and abusing your child who mouths off okay? Absolutely not. There's a way to gain or teach respect that doesn't involve abuse, verbal or physical.
"The sort of hazing I'm in support of is letting your superiors ridicule you to teach you patience, and if you disrespect them, you should do strenuous physical activity until you learn your lesson on respect."
While I do acknowledge that the sentence preceding this quote says the author doesn't support substance abuse or any dangerous tactics, this is still largely problematic. What you're suggesting is just enough power where it doesn't become dangerous. However, time after time we learn that when you give people in power an inch, they take a yard. Saying "hazing is okay as long as it stops at ridicule and strenuous physical activity" is just a stepping stone that will unquestionably eventually go further.
"What I’m arguing is that hazing is a choice. It is completely voluntary."
No, what you're arguing is that hazing should be a choice. That it should be voluntary, which is problematic in and of itself but I digress. When a brand new nervous and shy initiate shows up to the fraternity house and is locked in a room until they finish a handle of vodka, it isn't their choice. When they are told to drink lest they be beaten, it isn't their choice. When they're ridiculed and humiliated out of nowhere, it isn't their choice.
"Honestly, I think the organizations should just make those who want to initiate to sign a contract that gives members of the organization the ability to commit specific actions upon them. Likewise, the members of the organization should sign contracts that will terminate their membership if they do anything out of the lines and not hold the organization responsible for an individual’s action. But, you know, that just makes too much sense."
Does it, though? Does it make too much sense? You are saying that initiates should sign a document granting superiors the right to perform hurtful and possibly illegal activities upon them? And then if they want to stop being a member because they've endured too much, they should not hold the organization that had them sign a contract for illegal activity for it? Yeah, okay. Let's see that contract hold up in court or with the university or literally anywhere.
"Just because a few rotten eggs have gone overboard doesn’t mean they should outlaw something that people can find benefit from."
First off, those few rotten eggs are hundreds of rotten eggs. And going overboard typically means death. Just to be clear.
"That’d be like making cars illegal because someone crashed theirs and hurt themselves and/or someone else."
But cars are not inherently bad, and giving people the power to humiliate and abuse people is. They didn't go overboard doing something good, they went overboard doing something that was already pretty bad. I think a more apt comparison would be this: "That would be like making driving drunk illegal because someone crashed theirs and hurt themselves and/or someone else." Because like you said, yep, a few rotten eggs have gone overboard and killed people, but why outlaw it, right? Some people can benefit from driving themselves home instead of paying for a cab. Why'd those pesky rotten eggs have to ruin driving intoxicated, a sometimes very beneficial form of transportation!
"If done correctly, hazing has a lot of potential benefits."
A lot of bad things have potential benefits. A loved one dying can lead to you getting money from a will. Getting in a horrible car accident can remind you to hug your loved ones tighter. And hazing can lead to bonds between people and a higher level of respect for your superiors. But you wouldn't consider "getting will money" a reason to support the death of a loved one, and you wouldn't consider "rethinking life and love" as a reason to support car accidents. Because of that, the limited positive side effects of the dangerous, heinous crime that is hazing is not a reason to support it. It is simply a silver lining to an otherwise horrible thing.
Opinions are opinions, but quite frankly, an opinion supporting an unquestionably disgusting action that has lead to the untimely and tragic deaths of too many are objectively bad opinions. Hazing, in any capacity, is bad and should not be tolerated.
I do not support hazing, and you shouldn't either.