In the name of brotherhood?: Hazing in Greek Life

Alison Murtagh

It seems that every couple of months during the school year, a college makes national headlines for hazing violations in its Greek System. Sometimes the fraternity or sorority is suspended or put on social probation. Other times more drastic measures are taken, and the chapter is closed permanently on a campus.

However, most times, these violations of a “zero tolerance campus” go unnoticed and nothing happens. The heavy drinking continues behind closed doors, and students murmur about the “line up” that happened the night before. The letters fade on the closed fraternity house, and old members graduate. The worst hazing incidents are forgotten – until the cycle continues and a new fraternity is closed once again.

While hazing is often associated with fraternities, it is vital that students remember that it can happen among sororities as well. An article posted by NBC on Feb. 28 said the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at the University of Pittsburgh was suspended after 12 potential hazing violations were reported. The article states that a woman pledging the sorority had bruises on her arm, potentially from being hit by a paddle after she was taken to an off-campus house. The investigation is sill ongoing.

Some hazing incidents have resulted in death. According to an article published by

Time, there were four reported deaths from alleged hazing in fraternities in 2017. Some brothers involved in the deaths are facing charges.

Washington and Lee has 12 national fraternities and eight sororities. In a recent email to the student body, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Sidney Evans wrote, “As a reminder to the community, the Board of Trustees has been clear in its mandate that the university has zero tolerance for hazing. Hazing in any form is antithetical to the university’s principles and to the respect that we afford to all members of this community.”

The email came after a fraternity’s charter was suspended due to hazing. The fraternity may be able to return to campus in 2022, if approved.

It seems that students often do not report hazing because they fear repercussion from the school, or receiving a “bad rep” from their peers. However, I think the deadly hazing incidents that took place last year all demonstrated the importance of calling for help when events get out of control. If you notice a student in need of assistance, do something. Call the police immediately, because you never know when it will be too late. The punishment faced will pale in comparison to the fact that a life was saved.

Hopefully the events that occurred nationwide will serve as a wake up call for fraternities and sororities. There are other ways to develop a brother or sisterhood that do not involve breaking university hazing policies. As many fraternities and sororities on W&L’s campus undergo initiation, remember why you pledged in the beginning. As a campus, we can work to bring change to the Greek system, making it fun and meaningful for all.