First of all, I should start off by clarifying that I am not accusing any fraternity, sorority, organization or team on Rider’s campus of hazing.
That being said, I was still disgusted when I sat down to eat lunch on Oct. 29 and, while scrolling through my Facebook news feed, found out that a high school football team was dealing with hazing charges.
A high school in Eldred, N.Y., is forfeiting its season finale because of allegations that hazing was occurring behind the scenes. During the month before, two other high schools lost their football seasons for the same cause. One was located in Doylestown, Pa., and the other was in Sayreville, N.J.
One of my friends here at Rider is Karryne MacLean, a senior secondary education and history major. She attended that high school in Sayreville — Sayreville War Memorial High School — and graduated as a member of the Class of 2011.
She told me that when she first found out about the hazing investigation, which resulted in the arrests and charges of seven players and the suspension of several coaches, she was not only shocked, but, as a future teacher, she was appalled.
“I don’t want to be the classic case of ‘not in my town,’ but in the high school I went to, those things didn’t happen,” she said.
You can be initiated into something without having to go through hazing. When I think of initiation, I want to be able to think of a special celebratory ceremony. It may involve being asked questions and answering them stating how you will be a role model to the organization, and being applauded for doing so.
What I don’t want to think about when it comes to initiation is having to go through something completely humiliating and damaging to reputation or character just for the sake of getting into a brotherhood or team or anything of that nature.
It’s one thing if in professional sports teams the rookies have a day where they have to dress up as characters from Star Wars, or they have to wear clown noses during practice — in these situations, it’s all in good fun. What crosses the line into the hazing category is any form of bullying and being forced to do something against one’s will. For example, I shouldn’t be forced to chug a six-pack of beer to join a group if I choose not to.
Unfortunately at Rider, we don’t have a clean record when it comes to hazing. A blemish still remains from the 2007 death of Gary DeVercelly Jr., who died after a hazing incident at a fraternity party where pledges were expected to drink a large amount of alcohol. The consequences were brutal. Some people were charged, the school was faced with a lawsuit and the fraternity lost its recognition.
But the biggest consequence in this case was that two parents are never going to see their son again. And when hazing occurs, there are always victims.
In the cases of the football teams, or any high school sport team for that matter, think about those players who weren’t involved at all in the hazing allegations. They lose the opportunity to play the game they love because of the stupid decisions of others. Consequently, what about the parents of those players not involved? They also lose something because of others’ idiotic choices. If seniors are not involved, but a college sees their school is under hazing investigations, could they lose their scholarships?
Above all, of course, the parents of those hazed have to see their son or daughter with scars they can’t remove.
No matter the organization or team, to have to resort to hazing another person to “welcome them” is wrong, reckless and immoral. Now, older members, treat your younger members like actual human beings.
Junior journalism major
Printed in the 11/19/14 issue.