Sorority Hazing Increasingly Violent, Disturbing

Hazing Prevention's Maxwell, as with many other experts, said that psychological and emotional hazing is anything that will damage someone's self-esteem.

"This type of hazing takes a group of individuals who already have issues with self-worth and highlights them," Maxwell said. "You never know what kind of psychological trauma a girl may have in their background or what kind of mental health issues they may have."

Lining Up in Order of Breast Size

Robbins ran into a lot of emotional hazing while researching her book, calling "boob ranking" one of the worst.

"The sisters would bring pledges into a cold room and tell them to strip off their shirts and bras and line-up in order of breast size," Robbins said. "Then they played mental games with the girls and made fun of them.

"Another woman I spoke with was forced to stand on a bench in front of a fraternity and everybody got to yell out parts of her body that need work. This happened in the '90s and almost a decade later she still had emotional scars."

Mike Dilbeck, the president of Beck and Co., a nonprofit video production service, and the creator and producer of the RESPONSE ABILITY Project, an educational video program that addresses bystander behavior, used to be the president of a fraternity, which was kicked off campus for hazing, among other reasons, years after he graduated.

Dilbeck said that the worst part of emotional hazing is that it could "validate things that women could already be saying to themselves.

"When you're told stuff like you're too fat, you're ugly and you can't dress right, it takes an internal toll on young women," Dilbeck said. "It can have a long-lasting emotional impact on them."

Hank Nuwer, author of four books on hazing, echoed the idea that sisters can forget about the emotional state of their pledges.

"The girls need to remember that you don't know somebody's background during an initiation," Nuwer said. "You are playing with a loaded weapon when you emotionally haze."

What Needs to be Done

Even though there is more awareness of the issue than ever before, it continues to be a major part of today's Greek life.

Robbins said that getting rid of hazing is easy: just get rid of pledging.

"Sororities are just social groups and it is ludicrous and pointless to have pledges 'earn' their letters," Robbins said. "These girls are fresh to college and vulnerable. It is hard to stand up when you have a sorority telling you have to do something or get kicked out."

Many experts believe that students must take it upon themselves to stop hazing.

"It can't be only policy because that just drives hazing underground," Spencer-Thomas said. "It has to be students saying it's time for no more death and no more loss. There are other proven ways to forge bonds than to hurt people."

For Joanne, she said, switching campuses and meeting a new group of friends has given her a renewed sense of confidence.

After the sorority's national organization completed its investigation, two members of the chapter were dismissed from the sorority and two other members were put on probation.

While Joanne said that the girls continue to harass her on Facebook via "mean" postings, she tries to ignore them and to focus on the people in her life that build her up.

Page
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...