It's one thing when Greek organizations haze. There's a long tradition of that and, fortunately, because they're visible, theymuch of the time they can be stopped. It's a whole other animal when the secret societies that populate our nation's campuses are hazing.
Enter the "Men of Honor" of Virginia State University.
Two men drowned while subjecting themselves to an initiation ritual into this secret society. Seven men total were swept downstream in the Appomattox River on April 20 while attempting to "walk across the river," according to police. NewsOne described that area of the river as "rushing rapids."
While five of the seven made it to shore or were pulled to safety, two were not so lucky. Marvell Edmonson, 19, was found 300 yards away. The second, Jauwan M. Holmes, 19, was found a day later 200 yards away. They perished "downstream from where [the] two students entered the water Saturday as part of an initiation ritual into a social club, police said," according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.
From left to right: Cory D. Baytop, 26, of Newport News.; Eriq K. Benson, 19, of Quinton; and James A. Mackey Sr., 35, of suburban Richmond; Via NewsOne
RawStory is reporting that "James A. Mackey Sr., 35; Eriq K. Benson, 19; Cory D. Baytop, 26; and Charles E. Zollicoffer II, 29 —– all connected with the “Men of Honor” group – each face two counts of involuntary manslaughter and five counts of hazing, said police in Chesterfield County, Virginia." According to the Times, "Four men, including two VSU students, have been charged with hazing in connection with the initiation ritual." This implies non-VSU, outside direction, presumably from alumni members of the society.
I'm pretty sure we've all had enough of the hazing. Why students feel the need to test each other's commitment levels with binge drinking and kidnapping, band members beating each other to death, and sexually degrading practices (elephant walk, anyone?) is beyond me. It's a pervasive cultural phenomenon that is infecting other areas of life.
When world leaders get to be world leaders despite making past pledges "cease to be human," it's disgusting. When soldiers haze each other until they commit suicide, it's beyond being a problem. There are so many hazing stories, it's daunting to consider listing even a few.
For those who want to stop hazing in your respective organizations, or participate in helping others, there's support for you: http://www.stophazing.org/definition.html.
Hazing is not new, but we can make it a thing of the past, where it belongs.
Got a haze story you wanna tell me? Hit me on Twitter: @JohnathenDD