OUR FRAT ?
An Educational Pledgeship
Scavenger hunts and midnight calisthenics are out for Greeks: Educational Programs that stress know-how
over show-how are now the rage.
"Pledgeship has turned to education," Tau Kappa Epsilon member
Clark Holzhauser said, "It's strictly
educational, from books. It's a learning program more than an endurance
A new and improved version of Texas' anti-haze law takes effect today,
The new law makes participation in,
or knowledge of, a hazing illegal, and it
calls for university publication of the
law, as in student handbooks. Penalties extend to $10,000 fine and/or
two years in jail.
Campus Activities Director William
Munson said, student life policy bans
hazing, as defined in the student
handbook, and violators have been
subject to disciplinary action from the
Dean of Students Office.
"Hazing has occurred or will occur
in all organizations," Munson said,
"and our goal is to provide information on what is hazing."
"The traditional definition of hazing is fuzzy, anyway," he said. But the
new law's definition is hardly fuzzy:
An intentional or reckless act directed
against a student that endangers his
mental or physical health. The activity is usually performed by students
who want to pledge, initiate into or maintain membership in an organization.
The law bans physical brutality, physical activity, activities involving consumption of a food, liquid, drug, or alcohol,
intimidating or humiliating activities and
activities that cause a student to break a
Assistant Dean of Students William
King said two university organizations
have been on probation for hazing in the
last two years.
At least 39 hazing deaths have occurred
in the United States since 1978, seven in
the last five years.
Twenty-seven states have hazing laws,
four of which were passed in the last year.
Illinois passed the first law in 1901; it has
since been updated. Texas first passed
such a law in 1937. Efforts to strengthen it
failed in 1985, but the 1986 hazing death of
University of Texas freshman Mark
Seeberger helped push the new law
through the Texas Legislature in June.
Seeberger died after being chained inside a van and driven around Austin, while
being forced to drink with his free hand.
His fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, was suspended from the university for four years,
and eight students were disciplined.
Hazing is nothing new to Texans: — A
former UT student, Lee Roever, settled a
hazing lawsuit with his former fraternity,
Alpha Tau Omega, last month. Roever almost lost a hand after the fraternity's
"Help Week" in January 1986.
Roever said he and his fellow pledges
were locked in a room, pelted with 800
dozen eggs and deprived of sleep during
the week. He developed a fever of 106 and
a staph infection in his hand. He said he
brought the lawsuit to help cover almost
$25,000 in medical fees. The fraternity lost
university privileges and its national charter for at least three years.
Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, the sponsor of
the Texas Law, said he was first exposed to
hazing while growing up in Bastrop, Texas. "It never failed. Once a year or once
every other year, three or four naked students came knocking on our door, asking
to use the telephone."
— Texas A&M Corps Cadet Bruce
Goodrich died of heat stroke in fall 1985
after being forced to perform
"motivational exercises." Other pledge-
related deaths have been reported at Lamar University, Baylor University and
Psychologists say hazing occurs because
of a desire to fit in with a group.
Rachel Lauer, director of Pace University's Thinking and Learning Center,
counsels hazing offenders.
"It's nothing more complicated than
they did it the year before," she said. "The
harder it is to fit into a group, the more
people want to join."
— Ruthie Piller