No one wins in campus hazing rituals -

No one wins in campus hazing rituals

Would someone really want their first Google hit to reference such objectionable extra-curricular activities?


Explosive revelations regarding hazing initiatives at a University of Alberta fraternity shocked and surprised the country within hours of the story going online last Thursday. But it’s far from the first time something like this has happened, and it’s becoming a bigger problem.

Related: Wasn’t hazing a thing of the past?

In September 2005, allegations arose around the McGill University football team initiation activities that included threats of sodomy with a broomstick.

Again, in January 2009, reports surfaced of students at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia being beaten with tree branches, smeared with what they believed to be feces, and being forced to rub A535 on their genitals — all allegedly part of a residence initiation process.

And now, students at the U of A are coming forward with stories of what they reportedly had to endure in order to gain membership in the university’s chapter of the DKE fraternity.

Video footage obtained by The Gateway, the U of A’s campus paper, depicts sleep-deprived pledges eating their own vomit, being enclosed in a small plywood box and not being allowed to leave after the four-day event has begun.

All three instances received wide international media attention. Harsh punishments have traditionally been handed to the perpetrators, with universities making examples of them for other students thinking of doing the same.

Students at McGill were suspended and the football team lost its season. The StFX students were kicked out of residence, fined $50 each, given 50 hours of community service, ordered to take harassment counselling and banned from all student-sponsored social and sporting events, including use of the campus bar, for a year — the last of which was reversed after the students challenged the sanctions in provincial court.

While no one has been punished at the U of A yet, two investigations into the incident are underway — one by the university, the other by DKE International, the fraternity’s parent organization.

I have to wonder, with such substantial examples made of these three cases, why are students still willing to risk their reputations and possible academic expulsion or suspension, or even a criminal record, with such childish antics?

But it continues to happen, with organizers of hazing initiations across North America seemingly turning a blind eye to those who get caught. According to research completed by Hank Nuwer, an American expert on hazing, harassing initiation rituals are on the rise.

Nuwer told in February 2009 that there has been at least one hazing-related death per year in the United States since 1970, but the fall of 2008 saw eight.

While there have been no hazing-related deaths in Canada so far, I can’t help but think, no matter how important social status is to a person, a potential manslaughter charge is not worth the temporary feeling of power carrying out these initiations would bring. Not to mention, with the permanency of Internet archiving, would someone really want their first Google hit to reference such objectionable extra-curricular activities?

Photo: The fraternity house for Delta Kappa Epsilon, by Dan McKechnie, the Gateway


No one wins in campus hazing rituals

  1. This article states that “U of A students are coming forward with stories…” Actually, this is not the case. If you read the original news reports, the allegations were apparently made by men claiming to be alumni of the fraternity, though they made the allegations anonymously and have not actually levied complaints of any kind against the fraternity.

    Also, this article claims that the video “depicts sleep-deprived pledges eating their own vomit, being enclosed in a small plywood box and not being allowed to leave…” The video may show this, or it may not – the video hasn’t actually been released. A small snippet was shown on CBC which was very shaky and really didn’t show anything of consequence. No vomit-eating, no plywood box, nothing. It’s odd to me that anonymous allegations based on a video which nobody is permitted to see and a complete absence of complaints makes this a story.

    Some evidence would be nice.

  2. Michel you can’t seriously think that Maclean’s would actually require someone to check their facts before they write a story full of completely unproven and potentially fabricated information, do you?

    Not to mention, with the permanency of Internet archiving, would someone really want their first Google hit (try Googling Danielle Webb Macleans) to reference a quasi-journalistic article that may end up containing a ton of misinformation?

    The only place this article belongs is the garbage can.

  3. From what I’ve seen on the Gateway’s website – the video in its entirety has been turned over to Campus Security and the Dean of Students’ office for the investigation. It has not been made public to protect the source from potential reprisal.

  4. It sounds to me like “Michel” and “Eric” are trying to do damage control for the frat.

    The university administration and DKE international are both in posession of the full video, and the admin have conducted interviews with three DKE alumni at last count who have come forward. The video is not being shown publicly to protect the identities of those who took the video, as well as the pledges concerned.

    This hasn’t yet been turned into anything criminal. It is currently a private matter between DKE international, the Frat members involved and the university administration. I can totally understand why members of the local chapter would want to try to debase the allegations of the three alumni. I’d be worried too if I had expulsion from my school and frat hanging over my head.

  5. No one is ever “forced” to do anything in hazing rituals. At worst people are coerced into performing amusing acts that embarass and humour them. Although these acts shouldn’t be condoned, neither should they be harshly punished.

    Afterall, at the end day, anyone can just say No and walk away.

  6. Stevie, if you knew anything about this, you’d know that the pledges were not allowed to leave. They couldn’t just say “no” and walk away. you yourself also aknowledge that the participants are coerced into acts they do not want to participate in. Want to look up the definition of coercion?

    the participants were forced into a locked box that was full of urine, were force fed alcohol and denied sleep until they hallucinated, were made to eat your own vomit, were threatened with paddles and verbally accosted and threatened with further acts. That is just what we have evidence of.

    That goes beyond “embarassing and humouring them”.

  7. This is sad, why are there stories about this?

    Is there really no news out there that might happen to need some attention outside of silly university hazings?

    People CHOOSE to join them, and normally are aware that a hazing ritual comes into play, and they really do have a choice in walking away, the only catch is that they wont be part of whatever frat they wanted to join, boohoo.

    People need to grow a spine.