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?