Baylor has a hazing problem

Hannah Holliday | Cartoonist

Hazing — the culture that normalizes forced activities, partying and drinking to prove yourself — needs to end. Since 2019, there have been six reported cases of hazing by Baylor, those being by: Baylor Baseball, Phi Gamma Delta, Alpha Tau Omega, Kappa Omega Tau, Delta Tau Delta and Kappa Kappa Psi. Hazing is by no means an effective way of creating group bonds and ultimately causes more harm than good.

Baylor University defines hazing as “any intentional, knowing, or reckless act, occurring on or off campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in an organization.”

Student groups at universities, especially fraternities, are notorious for using acts of hazing to initiate new members. Whether groups use hazing as a method of bonding, tradition, humor or a way of establishing a hierarchy among members, when you force individuals to do something that is unsafe or unsanitary you cross a line where people can get seriously hurt.

With six reported cases at Baylor within the past year, there is clearly a hazing problem putting students in danger. Not only are there physical dangers of hazing when alcohol, drugs and dangerous settings are involved, long-lasting psychological trauma is at stake as well.

Those who experience hazing can suffer from continuous health and mental illnesses, post traumatic stress disorder, a loss of control and trust and a decline in their grades or work. Hazing can also affect the relationships of people involving those who have endured hazing. While students may not realize it, hazing is insensitive to the mental health of your peers, especially toward those who have gone through previous trauma.

In May of 2019, the Texas Legislature passed a new law that requires colleges to publish a list of organizations convicted or disciplined for hazing either on or off campus within the past three years along with a general description of the indecent and sanctions.

With the other four cases occurring prior to Sept. 1, 2019, Baylor was not legally bound to disclose more than the organizations’ names.

This new law allows the specificities of hazing reports to be public. Since this new law was passed, there have been two acts of hazing that have been publicly displayed by Baylor. Because of the new legislation, the public has more details on the incidents than what would have formerly been released.

Fourteen members of the Baylor baseball team were suspended based on a hazing incident that occurred in February 2019. While Baylor Athletics stated that there were no alcohol or drugs involved, there was no further details regarding the act of hazing itself. These 14 players will be suspended for two games during a three-week period beginning with their first game of the season on Feb. 14.

In fall 2019, fraternity Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) was placed on probation after an investigation that found that new members had been forced to consume food, alcohol and/or drugs, according to Baylor’s official hazing report. Additionally, 15 members were removed from active membership, four resigned national affiliation and the fraternity was placed on probation for a year.

Each of the reported cases show that there not only physical and psychological dangers to hazing, but institutional sanctions as well. Hazing jeopardizes a sports team’s ability to play or a Greek organization’s eligibility to participate in activities.

Instead of hazing, use normal, healthy methods to bond new members. There are so many ways to create new relationships with your peers that do not involve potentially harmful or demoralizing acts. Try to create new traditions that will make them feel welcome and comfortable, rather than forcing them to do things that may make them uncomfortable or put them in physical or psychological harm. Organize events like game nights, sports events, movies and other fun things that can bring people together.

Be mindful of those who may have had difficult experiences in the past, and work toward creating a culture that is inclusive and safe for everyone.