With all the stereotypes that surround Greek Life, the stereotype that all Greek organizations haze is one of the most prominent. Hazing can be defined as forcing someone to do something degrading, dangerous, or rigorous, which can cause both physical and psychological damage to that person. Hazing can affect people for the rest of their lives—leaving them with bodily scars, anxieties, and distrust for authority and other organizations.
If you do decide to rush a Greek organization, receive a bid, and begin the new member process, remember that hazing is never okay. If at any time during the new member process you feel uncomfortable, or if you are forced to do something you don’t want to do—DON’T do it. The pledging process should be something that helps you learn more about the Greek organization, its members, and most importantly, about yourself. No one will force you to stay with the pledge process if you don’t feel comfortable with it.
While all Greek organizations will say that they do not haze, there is no way to regulate every single organization at every school. Though the rules may be written one way, the way a process is led may not be in line with the written rules. Every once in a while, there is a sad and scary article in the news about a pledge dying during his/her new member process, but don’t let those stories sway you into thinking that all Greek organizations are doing the same things. Stereotypes and prejudiced attitudes often keep us from giving all people and all organizations a fair chance to show their true characters to us first.
I was very fortunate to have a process during which I learned so many useful skills I use for all my organizations and a greater appreciation for passion, motivation, and leadership. I became so close to all of my Sisters, and while it was at times hard to balance everything I was doing—taking 17 credits, working two jobs, and staying active in four other organizations—while also pledging, there was never a time I felt that I was being disrespected or harmed. If something didn’t feel right during my pledge process, I would have dropped out of the pledge process as soon as I felt deprecated.
I’m a big believer in gut feelings—so if your intuition tells you to either trust/distrust the organization, listen to it! And remember that any type of hazing is unacceptable, and if you are subject to any of it, report it to your campus police department or call 9-1-1. Greek life opens many opportunities to its pledges and its members, so definitely check out organizations if you are interested in joining one, even if you never saw yourself as being in one. I truly think there is something out there for everyone!
Dawn Angelicca Barcelona is a rising sophomore at Rutgers University and a sister of Iota Sigma Beta, an elite leadership sorority. She is majoring in English and Creative Writing. Among many things, she is a poet, dancer, green tea lover, and productive insomniac. She was a former Rutgers Admissions Student Blogger and currently works at Xanga.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DawnAngelicca.