Sunday, May 14, 2017
Colleges should supervise hazing instead of trying to ban it
Last year, when my younger son told me he was joining a fraternity, I was pleased, but had one concern.
"Good, I said. "I'm proud of you. Just don't let them kill you during the hazing," I said.
"Dad," he replied. "Frats don't haze anymore. It's banned."
"Of course it is," I said. "So when they're not hazing you, don't let them kill you. Just say, 'I'm sorry, but my father forbids me doing this.' You can blame me."
That conversation came back last week, as charges were filed over a horrific incident at Penn State. Eighteen members of Beta Theta Pi were charged with manslaughter and other crimes for letting pledge Timothy J. Piazza, 19, die after drinking excessively, falling down stairs, and then being neglected for 12 hours.
When I was his age, fraternities were a mystery. "You spend 18 years under the thumb of your parents," I'd say. "You finally get a taste of freedom and what's the first thing you do? Run to join an organization that demands you crawl across the quad at midnight, blindfolded, rolling an egg with your nose."
Belonging to a frat wasn't a point of pride, it was an indictment. I felt this so strongly, I put a frat paddle in my freshman dorm window, bearing a decal showing a coat of arms— a knight holding his thumb to his nose and waggling his fingers, blowing a raspberry—and the letters GDI, meaning "God Damn Independent."
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