More to pledging, hazing than abuse: History of Greek Life at Augie reveals improvements

With many people pledging, excitement is everywhere as students are hoping to get into different fraternities and sororities. There may also be a sense of nervousness at the thought of possible hazing during the initiation.

Hazing is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “the practice of playing unpleasant tricks on someone or forcing someone to do unpleasant things.”

Usually, people who have experienced hazing will describe it with a much stronger word than ‘unpleasant.’

Hazing, while seen as a tradition of joining a fraternity or sorority, is nothing to take lightly. There have been many incidents involving students being injured, hospitalized, or even dying as a result to the emotional and/or physical trauma suffered during their hazing.

Hazing has become so serious that there is an entire website, called, dedicated to maintaining the issue.

According to the website, it “[is] dedicated to legal issues concerning school hazing, hazing injury, hazing death, fraternity injury and fraternity death cases, and related matters.”

My father, Joseph Zimmerman, was in the Augustana graduating class of 1993, and he was also involved in Greek life. He was a PUG (Phi Upsilon Gamma fraternity), and despite the fact they were disbanded he was very proud of being a PUG.

The reason for their chapter being shut-down was due to hazing, however. When my father was pledging, he said that they were paddled and had tobacco spit on them. He never told me anything else about the pledging, and it may be due to the fact that it got much worse.

“If you were strong, you stayed,” he told me.

In a letter from Dean Evelyn Campbell to PUG President Gary Jessup, the fraternity was in “Violation of Articles 10, 16, and 17 of the Augustana Code of Social Conduct.”

Article 10 involves, “conduct causing or intended to cause personal injury to others”, 16 involves, “violation of civil or criminal law” and  finally 17 is “conduct on- or off-campus constituting a threat to the physical or emotional safety and well-being of the college community or any member thereof, including but not limited to conduct ranging from verbal harassment to physical or sexual assault.”

Activities that violated these codes included making pledges run five miles in the rain, attempting to kidnap a pledge from his dorm, and paddling pledges regularly throughout the month of March.

Not all members of Greek life endure this extreme hazing. Some of it could even be deemed harmless, although still technically “hazing”. There are many different types of hazing that don’t involve physical or emotional abuse.

This less extreme hazing includes locking pledges in a room for several hours without anything so that they can bond with each other, making them sleep in a frat/sorority house kitchen, and walking them around blindfolded in order to disorient them. While this is technically hazing, it is nothing to be afraid of.

Pledging is definitely a tradition in Greek life, and there is no reason it should be completely abolished.

It bonds hopeful pledges, and it is a good way to show is willing to be loyal to the fraternity/sorority. It only needs to be maintained so that abuse doesn’t slip through and begin to blend in with hazing.