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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cut it out.

Courtesy of hazingprevention.org
For my day job - the one that pays me - I work with student organizations, specifically fraternity and sorority life. For those who aren't currently on a college campus, you may not be aware that it's National Hazing Prevention Week. I had pondered posting about it anyway, referencing some of the higher profile band hazing incidents of the past. Sadly, there's fresh nonsense to talk about.

Thirteen members of the Texas State Bobcat Marching Band, all from the drumline, are currently suspended and facing charges of hazing following an incident that involved blindfolding and alcohol consumption under the guise of "initiation".

Somewhere, someone is dismissing this as "harmless" or "minor". I couldn't disagree more. First of all the forced consumption is dangerous enough on its own. But as much as I'm typically not a fan of "gateway" or "slippery slope" arguments, incidents of hazing do tend to escalate. This activity is along the same continuum that has taken lives, and it's not ok. Fellow band folks: It's not making you play better. It's not making you bond better (except perhaps in the Stockholm syndrome or shared trauma senses, neither of which is healthy). Your putting yourself, your fellow students, and your organizations in jeopardy. Stop it.

Speaking of "harmless" - it pains me to no end that each year, usually around NFL training camps, major sports media folks (looking at you, Worldwide Leader) make light of the hazing that takes place aimed at league rookies. This is part of the norming that makes others thing this sort of thing is ok.

Elsewhere: Cornell men's lacrosse is suspended from fall ball due to hazing, or as the report succinctly codifies it:"presence of a culture within this group of treating new members as less than equals."

In closely related news, earlier this week I saw the Marching 100 for the first time since their return, via their video from the MEAC/SWAC challenge. There numbers looked a good deal closer to, well, 100, and they were marching just three drum majors. I'm sure they will return to full strength in time, but their decimation is of their own doing.

Professionally, I'm quick to point out that while mental images and assumptions surrounding hazing often point to Greek life, the problem extends beyond that community. And while I feel it is important to challenge those assumptions to put hazing in the proper framework, it brings me no joy; frankly, I wish it were a culture that were much smaller.
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