I Am A Victim Of Hazing: My Research On the World Of Greek Life
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I Am A Victim Of Hazing: My Research On the World Of Greek Life

"You had a bad hangover and you’re completely over exaggerating."

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I Am A Victim Of Hazing: My Research On the World Of Greek Life
USA Today

Author's note: This is a follow up piece to my first article “A Sorority Horror Story: Recruitment Night Gone Wrong”. I suggest anyone reading this piece should read that one first so they understand where this is all stemming from.

Here's the link: theodysseyonline.com/sorority-horror

Based off of the messages I received after my first article, I can already imagine some of the messages I am going to get when I post this piece of writing just because of the title.

You are not a victim. You had a bad hangover and you’re completely over exaggerating. You need to take these articles down. You just need to suck it up.

Honestly, the fact that I have already received messages like my hypothetical one telling me to “suck it up” have made it pretty clear that the types of things I described in my article are most likely still happening to people in my community, which is disgusting.

I do want to point out that I have also had an outpouring of support from numerous people. People I’d never even talked to before reached out to me after reading my article to let me know that they were sorry for what I had experienced and that they were glad I was doing what I could to help make sure this type of stuff doesn’t happen, be it only with an article.

The article that this is a follow up to was not a journalistic piece, just to clear that up. I did not do any research of my own on the topic of hazing. I didn’t even use the word hazing in my article, but it has come to my attention that's exactly what it was. I also did not do any extensive research about on campus vs. off campus sororities, or Greek life as a whole. This article will be different in a way. I made sure to talk to a number of sorority girls, on campus and off, to get their views on the business of being in a sorority.

Just two other things I would also like to clear up about my article are as follows:

  1. The sorority I described in my article was, in fact, an off-campus/unaffiliated sorority.
  2. The actions that took place in the article happened around what I believe to be early 2015. I remember it was snowing whenever I would walk to the sorority house.
  3. I was underage when this incident happened. So not only was I forced to drink a lot, I was forced to drink a lot during a time when alcohol wasn’t readily available to me, therefore my tolerance was that much lower.

Now, before I get into what I went over with the sorority girls in my official questioning, I want to go over a few things I noticed when I first posted my article. People were scared. Off campus and on campus sororities were scared that a few words out of a victim’s mouth could tarnish all they hold dear. In some ways, I am sorry. I am sorry if I made completely respectable Greek life organizations feel they had to be scared they would be shut down for something they didn’t do. I didn’t mean to make anyone feel that way. What I wanted was just to have my voice heard and to let people know that dangerous activities can happen when rushing off-campus sororities. That was it, plain and simple. I didn’t think about the fact I could be saving lives, per say, but if somehow after reading my article someone chooses not to go to that off campus rush party, and in turn not go through an initiation process like I did, I can see where I may have done that.

Another thing that came up after I posted the article was some serious ignorance about the dangers of binge drinking. Without naming names I will say that more than one off-campus sorority girl approached me, one way or another, stating that what I described in my article was completely normal for someone who had a lot to drink. All my article was doing was “describing a bad hangover”. And while, yes, I did state that after that night I had a hangover that lasted about 3 months, that was not all I described. After researching alcohol poisoning, I can say that vomiting as much as I can at least remember I did is not healthy or safe for anybody, drunk or not. Neither is blacking out as much as I did. When I said I blacked out, it wasn’t that I fell down and passed out every time. It’s that my mind shut off. I can’t remember hours out of that night, but I was told I was conscious.

I am not the only one who has experience hazing from an off-campus sorority near my school. A few years ago there was a death that happened when a young woman was thrown out of a car while blindfolded during initiation. I have talked to different sources as well as read about the incident in my own time. I’ve been told the police in Plymouth still have the car that was involved in the incident in case they need to use it for evidence in different hazing cases. Sadly, in my case, there is no evidence. All there is are my words against others. There have been cases when people have had to question off-campus sorority girls about incidents that occurred, similar to mine, where they have said things like “I don’t know what you are talking about.” Initiation nights for off-campus sororities have been very secretive in the past. As I have not taken part in any off-campus sorority in the past couple years I can not vouch for what their process is like, personally, I can just take them at their word, which is difficult for me.

As long as all that has been cleared up let me get to the information I collected from the sorority girls over the past couple weeks. I had the pleasure of interviewing women from two different schools: Plymouth State University and Southeastern Louisiana University. I have decided to keep their names anonymous to save from creating any drama within their social groups and schools.

When I asked the woman from my own school about her experience with greek life on campus she had much to say, which I greatly appreciated. She described herself as being someone who loves to try new things and she wished to get the most out of her college experience. She stated joining an on-campus sorority was one of the best decisions she ever made. She made sure to join an on-campus sorority because she wanted to be sure it was affiliated with the school (which I can now say was a very smart choice that I failed to make). Her sorority is an international group so she felt it was smart to join one so she could have connections later in life. Her favorite part about being in the sorority was getting close to a number of women. She has made incredible bonds and lifelong friendships. She has friends outside of the sorority but inside the sorority it is really like a sister-like bond. She also enjoys the history of her sorority as it has been on campus since 1972. When I asked about alcohol and whether it was either provided at rush parties or recruitment processes she surprised me. Her sorority does not affiliate with alcohol. This means there is no alcohol provided during recruitment or rush parties. The sisters are also not allowed to drink alcohol when wearing their letters.

As I have realized I did not research sororities as much as I should have when I first tried to get involved in one I made sure to ask if she had researched before she got involved and she did! Super props! Research should definitely be done before making a decision before joining any group! Her sorority is a huge organization that has 200 chapters within the United States and Canada with over 200,000 members. They are recognized and regulated by the school and is recognized as a legit Greek organization by the National Panhellenic Conference. They do a lot of charity work for children with disabilities and raise money to pay for hearing aids for those who cannot afford them which is awesome! Their chapter is required to do 20 hours of community service a semester and maintain a GPA of 2.7. Fortunately, they have a strict policy against hazing as well. She stated that recruitment nights (they don’t call their get together “rushes”) are always fun and they do safe activities without the use of alcohol.

Talking to the girl from Southeastern Louisiana University (SELU) I came to realize that Sororities are massively different when it comes to different schools. When it comes to affiliated sororities at my school they are more like clubs than actual sororities. At Plymouth there are no official housing for sororities. No buildings with the letters tacked to the outside or anything like that. Some sorority girls choose to live together and use their on-campus apartments for rush parties, but that is the extent to the “housing” of sororities. In SELU there are houses specifically for the sororities and there is no sign of their being any off-campus sororities surrounding SELU. SELU has five different sorority houses and the recruitment process is very confusing (to me) and extensive.

The woman from SELU first got interested in the Greek life when she talked to the recruitment counselors at her school and she was excited to meet new people. The recruitment process at her school is so different from that at my school I almost don’t know where to begin so I will put a quote straight from her (edited for cleanliness since I interviewed her over Facebook messenger).

SELU: “There are five days of recruitment for us. On the first day the [hopeful sisters] attend all five houses and then cut one. Next day, they get their schedule based off of our system then they attend a max of four and drop one. Then three, drop one. Then preference, make your selections, then bid day. The sororities have about 50 minutes each day to talk to the new members. We have recruitment counselors that follow their groups to make sure that nothing goes in or comes out of the houses [alcohol and drug wise]. The houses are on campus so we are not allowed to have any alcohol on the campus or in the houses at any time [SELU is a completely dry campus]. They are very strict about this. Sorority members actually are not even allowed to drink alcohol AT ALL 24 hours before and after reference out of respect for the process. We do enforce this. Drinking is by no means a part of our recruitment or selection process. And hardly a part of our sisterhood at all since we can't drink in the houses.”

What I understood from the information I gained from the woman at SELU is that recruitment at SELU is a mutual selection between the houses and potential sisters. I also thought the idea of a dry campus was very interesting.

I did get to talk to other girls from off campus sororities who were very upset about my article, obviously. Some were less thrilled when it came to me asking for help on a second article, while others kindly obliged. To those that helped, I thank you and I hope for the love of god that this information is sincere, because that is the point of all this. Creating an honest look at what different sororities look like at PSU is what I need to do. I will say that I myself may take some of the information I got with a grain of salt, because I remember being told by the sorority sisters before my recruitment night that they were all strongly against hazing. Obviously they weren’t against it enough. Some of the time I think of off campus sororities as more like cults than sororities. They are something that, while they may work well for some, can be deadly for others. But, as is life.

Alright. Basically, when I talked to most of the off campus sorority sisters, there were only good things said. They did state that while they had a shady past, they have made huge strides in the past couple years to undo the damage. I heard from one of the sorority girls that their recruitment process includes hiking, get-to-know you games and other fun safe activities. I also talked to an alumni of one of the sororities about what kind of things they did when they were part of the sorority. They talked a lot about the community service they did including working at a community dinner, helping those who have gone through surgery care for their animals, collect children’s toys for less fortunate children in the community, go down to Boston and provide clothes for the homeless. It all sounded pretty nice. I asked about their dues and what they were used for and they stated it was for food and helping other sisters with emergencies. I was brought back to one of the rush nights at the sorority I tried to get involved with and I remembered asking how much dues were. I remember it being somewhere are $15 dollars. I asked what it was used for then also and they said it was for buying the booze for parties. I’m not joking. I’m not trying to make off campus sororities look bad on purpose. That’s what this particular sister had said to me. It may have changed and it could very probably be completely different for different off campus sororities.

For this article I really wanted to go in depth. I wanted to interview more off campus sorority girls and some girls seemed very keen on helping me out. But, unfortunately I didn’t get a lot of the answers I wanted. Some off campus sorority girls either dodged or completely ignored some of the questions I asked them. I have been blocked by many an off sorority girl since my first article came out. I got many messages telling me to remove the article. I received messages about how exaggerated my article was which made me question myself. I thought long and hard about the experience I had I read over the article many times and tried really hard to think of ways I could have made it more realistic to what I experienced and I have decided that that is exactly what I experienced. I did not exaggerate. I did the very best I could at recollecting the memories I did have of that specific night. That is what happened. I could not stand by the end of the night. That I know for sure because I can still feel the hands gripping onto my arms lifting me up off the vomit covered floor. I remember that. I didn’t make it up.

I have actually attended parties at a fraternity of a school I will keep nameless. I use the word “party” loosely here, not because it wasn’t a blast, but because for some the word party is synonymous for a “get together with booze and drugs and skimpily clad girls gyrating on hoards of men”, I could be wrong though. At these parties we baked cookies. It was fantastic. Some of the best fun I’ve had and getting to know the people during the cookie creating was really nice. That is what greek life recruitment should look like. Lot’s of cookies baking. After the cookies were baked, there was an open house at the fraternity where alumni could come back and see the house and eat the cookies in steampunk themed garments.

I asked a couple of my really good friends who are both a part of this cookie baking fraternity what the recruitment process is like, being sure to tell them that if the recruitment process is really secretive it was fine if they wished to keep it to themselves. They both stated that it was not secretive at all really, and pretty gosh darn simple. The potential brother would sign a sheet stating they were interested in joining and eventually you’d receive a piece of paper signed by the president of the frat house stating that you have been invited to be a brother. You would then return that piece of paper to signify that you join. Sometimes the newly recruited brother could make a game out of it, making the housemates find the sheet of paper somewhere in the house. The only reason someone would be turned down by the house to become a brother is if they aren’t known by many of the brothers, or are known to be troublemakers. This is the type of Greek life I could totally get behind. I have met a number of the people in this sorority and they are all super kind and inviting people, not to mention awesomely nerdy. I have never seen any sign of hazing surrounding their fraternity and I have made nothing but fond memories inside their house. But seriously, cookies are key.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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