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Adapting hazing initiation practices to changing times

Beta Theta Pi drops hazing for pledges in winter 1987 and adds Outward Bound trip to initiation rites

Mark Crapo

on 13 April 2010

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Transcript of Adapting hazing initiation practices to changing times

Hazing long established aspect of fraternity initiation crackdown on hazing Betas get in trouble - must find new way Betas living in new age Fraternities build bonds Before the new initiates become members
of the fraternity, they must
undergo pledgeship
During pledgeship, the initiates
learn about the fraternity and begin
to build bonds with the current members
and fellow pledges The pledges typically
were mentally and
physically challenged
during this period Many initiations began to take the form of what is today called "hazing" which would involve humiliating, degrading, and physically aggressive activities In the first half of the 20th century, hazing, though humiliating and physically aggressive, was not heavily scrutinized, with most considering the practice "boys being boys" But these activities were shared
burdens which ultimately (purportedly)
sought to build character and togetherness Institutional Liability A series of landmark court cases between 1950 and 1970, established limited liability on behalf of universities, which were previously considered in effect parental supervisors in control of every aspect of their student body. However, with the Greek organizations on campus, universities began to be held liable for not monitoring and/or acting on pertinent information regarding dangerous activities by Greek organizations. These included, potentially, hazing activities
which result in injury and/or death Many institutions, including the University of Denver, passed anti-hazing policies State government began to get involved with the majority of the states passing anti-hazing laws by 1990 (Colorado did not pass an anti-hazing law until 1999) The Beta Theta Pi fraternity on the University of Denver Campus was sanctioned by the school for violating the anti-hazing policy in 1987 - details of the violation are unknown Forced to find a new way to replace old initiation practices, the Betas turned to Outward Bound The Beta pledges' trip consisted of two days camping in the wilderness. Snowshoeing the first day and fording streams, climbing trees and building bridges out of logs and rope the second. *Goofy dancing not required by Outward Bound course Outward Bound's philosophy "is to encourage and develop physical, as well as mental, survival, athletic, leadership and communication skills while in the great outdoors" (Metzger) "The going was tough, the snow deep, and the wind freezing," but the pledges learned "to drop all of their personal agenda and ego needs for the group needs and group goal." According to their Outward Bound instructor, David Hannegan, "They really communicated and kept the spirit and the unity going" (Metzger) How did the change in initiation practices fit with Beta? Some Betas resisted the change,
but others pointed out that "hazing
is "not right" and "never has been" (Martin) If the goals of initiation are to challenge
the individuals and bond the group, the Outward
Bound trip seemed to meet these goals. The Beta Outward Bound experience is an example of a new era in fraternity initiation. No longer under the radar, university policy and state law delineate no hazing will be tolerated on college campuses. Institutions have a strong incentive to enforce their policies, with lawsuits frequently holding schools liable for hazing related injuries and death. National fraternity organizations have banded together to advocate the dangers of hazing. Boys can still be boys, but they will have to find new ways to do it or suffer the consequences. Fortunately, fraternities like Beta demonstrate that their are other ways to achieve the same ends and still preserve the initial intense bonding experience of initiation. Information on Beta's practices afterward were not available, but the Betas were not using Outward Bound as an initiation tool at the time of the closing of the house in 2008. The house was not closed for hazing-related activities. Hazing NO MORE David
2010 Old
New Adapting Hazing Initiation Practices to Changing Times: Beta Theta Pi and Outward Bound
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