By Jose Mexicano
We often see it as a prank. Some stupid video compilation on YouTube, something that, more often than not, has made people laugh more than they should.
Because society chooses to see it as a joke, something acceptable. And then excuses are given out, saying, “they chose this”, “it’s just a prank bro”, “they’ll be fine, they aren’t little kids anymore.” It has become acceptable bullying, something to laugh at, seeing the student, who worked hard their entire life to get to college, down on their knees, or outside in their underwear, only so that they may no longer feel excluded.
And then excuses are given out, saying, “they chose this”, “it’s just a prank bro”, “they’ll be fine, they aren’t little kids anymore.”
The matter remains that this encouraged torture, this juxtaposition of brother or sister hood and pain, is not acceptable. We walk past it, we ignore it, and as such, hazing occurs in all places, in high school, in college, even in social media. And it is NOT a choice. For in hindsight, or from a position of security, it is easy to say that it was a matter of will, but we are social creatures, and to feel the pain of a paddle is far easier to endure than to feel the pain of loneliness. Once that first step is taken, the slippery slope is embraced, and the pain of leaving the only group that the person may have, tears them away from reason. It is as much of a choice as it is for an alcoholic to simply say no to the fifth, sixth, seventh drink.
That is not to say it is impossible to stop hazing, impossible to help people to leave it behind. In fact, people can, do leave it. People can, on their own, overcome that fight. But it is far easier to climb out of a pit when you have others offering a rope, a hand, or even just encouragement. And that, is why we cannot leave hazing be. We cannot turn a blind eye, we cannot let it slide, we cannot walk away. We must rise up. We must band together. We must stomp out this vile serpent head of twisted pain, of forced torture. This isn’t a normalcy, just another facet to the matter of college life. No rite of passage should make someone drink until they go to the hospital. No rite of passage should make someone endure a paddling or caning until they cannot stand. No rite of passage should make someone have sex with someone to embarrass them.
Let it not be forgotten that fraternity, and sorority, were derived from the Latin words, frater, for brother, and soror, for sister. These words were not, and are, not empty. The kinship of brothers and sisters is not brought on by forced embarrassment, shame, humiliation. They are brought on by friendship, by shared troubles. There is no excuse for hazing. We as a people must fight, must band together and draw the line, must forbid the entry of hazing into our schools and colleges. These are sites for learning, for education, for enlightenment. And this message is for all. Even those who participate in hazing. There are far better ways to develop the bonds of kinship, for hazing only creates toxicity, and toxicity only breeds contempt, subjugation, pain. We cannot stand silently by, quiet bystanders to this torture. We must rise up, we must be heroes-even if it is only by small efforts, for our collection of small strings can form the rope with which we can pull people out of the pit of hazing, with which we WILL pull people out. Together.
About the Author
Jose Mexicano was the second place winner of the National Federation of State High School Associations and HazingPrevention.Org High School Essay Contest for 2018 and comes from the Merrill F. West High School, CA.