The Rutgers Sorority Hazing

Here are three brief ethics observations on a horrible story that mostly speaks for itself.

Police arrested members of a Rutgers sorority after a pledge reported being beaten by paddles over a period of seven days, causing her blood clods, welts, bruises and excruciating pain. The young woman said that the six members of  the Rutgers chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho told her that the beatings were not hazing, which is banned on the Rutgers campus, but rather an experience that would “humble” her, and build love and trust between her and her sorority sisters. Police say that there were at least six other women who were similarly “humbled.”

First observation: the abuse of power, lack of respect, and cruelty demonstrated by this incident is the dark side of the same mindset that spawned Cornell’s Pi Phi dress code.

Second observation: any student who would accept such brutal treatment for seven days before reporting it needs some remedial instruction in responsibility and courage, not to mention self-esteem, common sense, and self-preservation. Her first clue that this was an ethically-challenged organization should have been the assertion that beatings build trust. How would that work, exactly?

If it had been only one day of beatings, would she have then proudly joined the sorority and participated in abusing future pledges? I wonder.

Final observation: Stating that a beating with a paddle isn’t hazing is like saying waterboarding isn’t torture. Is it possible that  John Yoo and Dick Cheney were members of Sigma Gamma Rho?

2 thoughts on “The Rutgers Sorority Hazing

  1. Hazing occurs because it is successful. It makes people loyal to the group. It is not all physical, such groups use the same basic tactics that cults use. That is why most people don’t complain.

    Your joke brings up an interesting point. Most of our elected leaders were not doubt hazed in fraternities or sororities. Could the fact that they ‘voluntarily’ underwent something similar lead them to believe that ‘enhanced interrogation methods’ could be justified. If you don’t think the two are comparable, look at the articles about people being branded with coat hangers at frat initiations.

  2. As you surmised, it was only half a joke. The abuse at Abu Ghraib also resembled hazing.

    It works with people who it can work on. I think if your values are sound, your self-esteem is good, and your brain cells are working, you neither initiate this stuff or tolerate it.

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