Tragic Student Hazing Incident Leads to Death And New Laws For Washington
What's the big deal?
Hazing is just a "right of passage, right?
How To Define Hazing
Defenders will say hazing is the price you pay to join the club, to become one of the group, to earn your spot, to show your worthiness and loyalty and after all, it's a tradition "we all went through. " It was our turn then so it's your turn now.
Hazing is often associated with college fraternities and the wiktionary defines "fratboy culture" as
often associated with arrogance, a hedonistic lifestyle, hypermasculinity and sexual promiscuity.
Not always...but too often. And hazing is often the price of admission if you are deemed "worthy" of consideration.
A Comprehensive Definition
Lehigh University in Pennsylvania posts a pretty comprehensive definition of hazing.
Hazing is any action taken or situation created, whether on or off campus, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule. Hazing includes but is not limited to any brutality of a physical nature, such as paddling, whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug or other substance, or any other forced physical activity that would subject the individual to physical harm or mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, forced exclusion from social contact, forced conduct which could result in extreme embarrassment, or any other forced activity which would adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the individual.
So who wants to defend the practice of "hazing"? Certainly not me. I can't imagine wanting to join any group or organization that requires some kind of initiation that does anything but support and uplift my membership. Don't compromise my dignity in order to qualify me as "one of the boys."
If an organization wants or needs to do that to assure my fealty, then I question what other incorrect conclusions such a body might reach or to which they might adhere. I say if you want a band of brothers who will always have your back no matter what, join the Marine Corps. They "haze" in their own way!
WSU Incident Could Lead To New Laws
And hazing is back in the news again in Washington State stemming from a case involving a death at a fraternity at Washinton State University in 2019. How many Yakima Valley Coogs underwent hazing at WSU?
King 5 News in Seattle reports, "Sam Martinez died of alcohol poisoning following 2019 fraternity party ... the coroner determined the 19-year-old’s death was caused by alcohol poisoning. Police blamed hazing, determining fraternity members encouraged Martinez to drink what turned out to be a fatal amount of alcohol."
Another bill, House Bill 1758 “Sam’s Law,” would make hazing-related incidents gross misdemeanors, and those resulting in “serious bodily harm” would be charged as class C felonies, but that legislation has yet to have a hearing date.
Martinez's parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against WSU and the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity which he was pledging to join. The fraternity was suspended by both its national organization and the university after Martinez's death.