Fraternities and Violence Essay

There are two very distinct literatures on violence as related to fraternities, with only the smallest overlap. One literature, on hazing, touches lightly on predominantly White (PW) fraternities and is mainly concerned with violence in hazing in historically Black (HB) fraternities. The other literature is almost completely focused on PW fraternities and deals with sexually predatory and aggressive practices. In neither case is the empirical support in the literature particularly strong.

Sexual Aggression

Sexual aggression and date rape are discussed here only in the context of PW fraternities, as there has been little research on these behaviors in HB fraternities. Often, people studying fraternities have felt that these organizations have provided a sort of subculture that insulates their members from the general norms or rules of the entire campus. Over the years, studies have shown that fraternities promote conformity, and earlier work showed that fraternity members were more likely to be accepting of racial prejudice and hate crimes. A preoccupation with loyalty, a very strong concern with masculinity, and the abuse of alcohol can easily lead to either individual or group violence. A historic indifference by most college administrations to violence against women has provided a lack of deterrence that allows such behavior to continue. If fraternity men think that they can get away with violence against women, it is because on most campuses, most of the time, they can.

Most of the citations in the literature have been to the earlier ethnographic studies of Patricia Martin and Robert Hummer or Peggy Sanday, or to an array of surveys on rape supportive attitudes, which did not find as clear an association between PW fraternity membership and self-reported sexual aggression as more recent empirical studies have found. For example, in a meta-analysis of a variety of empirical studies, researchers found a significant but modest relationship between fraternity membership and admitted sexual aggression. One reason why the effect is only modest may be that researchers lumped all fraternity members together into one pool, while in truth some fraternities may be more sexually aggressive than others. Further, fraternities are rarely monolithic entities where all members think alike; some members may be much more sexually aggressive than others, especially where they are more influenced by male peer support networks. Thus, those who live in the on campus houses of the most predatory chapters may be the most influenced by male peer support and perhaps be the most aggressive. Male peer support further sustains hyper masculinity, group secrecy that promotes a lack of deterrence, and a culture of alcohol abuse that has repeatedly been associated with sexual aggression. Research indicates that bedroom wall pictures show that fraternity men engage more in the sexual objectification of women.

Physical Hazing

Hazing is rarely recognized as a criminal act, although virtually all states have laws against it. It has a long history on American campuses, particularly in the 19th century, but more recently it seems to have been limited mainly to fraternities and sororities. Hazing might include relatively lesser forms of degradation (marching around campus, singing songs on the campus green, wearing beanies), or it might include any uncomfortable activity that a young person could think up for the pledge: for example, spanking with paddles as often as daily for months or a year, forced drinking of large quantities of alcohol, eating disgusting foods designed to induce vomiting, being left outdoors in winter overnight wearing only underwear, not being allowed to sleep for days. Both fraternities and sororities practice mental forms of hazing, which are commonly dismissed as pranks, but which have occasionally left pledges so affected that they develop such symptoms as speech impediments.

To deal with abuses, physical hazing is banned today by all fraternity national organizations and central offices, such as the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the coordinating body for the eight historically African American fraternities and sororities, which has banned hazing in any form whatsoever. Spurred by the potential liability from lawsuits by harmed students, universities have also instituted strong antihazing rules. However, the net effect has been to hide the extent of current hazing; anywhere it continues it has been driven off campus and underground, where critics claim that it is getting more physically abusive beyond the control of campus officials and alumni.

There are strong pressures to keep hazing alive. Students often have not bought into the antihazing prohibitions. Alumni may be strong advocates of hazing and a problem in preventing university action. Pledges volunteer for hazing, not unlike some street gangs where those who join without major pain and stress are given much less prestige as members than those who are beaten. This has been particularly true in some HB chapters, where it may be a badge of masculinity, self-esteem, and pride to have undergone painful hazing.

Virtually all of the literature on hazing suggests that although PW fraternities are now only using humiliation techniques, some HB fraternities still engage in serious beatings of pledges and branding of members. In PW fraternities, pressure from national chapters seems to have cut back or ended beatings in the past 20 to 30 years, although a lack of alcohol and beatings has not meant an end to deaths or injuries in PW hazing.

Bibliography:

  1. Jones, R. L. (1994). Black haze: Violence, sacrifice and manhood in black Greek-letter fraternities. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  2. Murnen, S. K., & Kohlman, M. H. (2007). Athletic participation, fraternity membership, and sexual aggression among college men: A meta-analytic review. Sex Roles, 57, 145–157.
  3. Ruffins, P. (1997). Fratricide: Are African American fraternities beating themselves to death? Black Issues in Higher Education, 14(8), 18–25.
  4. Sanday, P. R. (2007). Fraternity gang rape: Brotherhood and privilege on campus (2nd ed.). New York: New York University Press.
  5. Schwartz, M. D., & DeKeseredy, W. S. (1997). Sexual assault on the college campus: The role of male peer support. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

24 thoughts on “Fraternities and Violence Essay

  1. I抳e been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or blog posts in this sort of house . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site. Reading this info So i抦 satisfied to express that I have a very just right uncanny feeling I came upon exactly what I needed. I such a lot indubitably will make certain to don抰 fail to remember this site and give it a glance on a constant basis.

  2. An added important issue is that if you are an elderly person, travel insurance regarding pensioners is something you should make sure you really take into account. The mature you are, the harder at risk you happen to be for allowing something negative happen to you while abroad. If you are not necessarily covered by a number of comprehensive insurance plan, you could have several serious issues. Thanks for sharing your ideas on this website.

  3. Howdy would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using?

    I’m going to start my own blog soon but I’m having a tough time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique.
    P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had
    to ask!

  4. Hello! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make
    your site mobile friendly? My website looks weird when browsing from my iphone 4.
    I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to
    resolve this issue. If you have any suggestions, please share.
    Thanks!

  5. Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed
    reading it, you will be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and may come back
    down the road. I want to encourage that you continue your great posts, have
    a nice afternoon!

  6. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact
    was a amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you!

    By the way, how could we communicate?

  7. What i don’t realize is actually how you’re not really a lot more neatly-favored than you may be now.
    You are very intelligent. You recognize therefore considerably in the case of this matter, produced me in my opinion imagine it from a
    lot of varied angles. Its like women and men aren’t involved except it is something to
    do with Girl gaga! Your own stuffs outstanding.
    Always care for it up!

  8. Hello i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anyplace, when i read this piece of writing i thought i could
    also make comment due to this sensible article.

  9. Fantastic beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your website, how can i
    subscribe for a blog website? The account helped me a acceptable deal.
    I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

  10. Can I simply say what a relief to uncover a person that truly knows what they are discussing online.
    You actually realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
    More and more people must check this out and understand this side of your story.
    I was surprised you’re not more popular since you surely have the gift.

  11. Thanks for the recommendations you have contributed here. Yet another thing I would like to talk about is that computer memory specifications generally rise along with other developments in the technologies. For instance, as soon as new generations of processors are made in the market, there is certainly usually a related increase in the type demands of all computer memory plus hard drive space. This is because the software program operated simply by these processors will inevitably boost in power to leverage the new technologies.

  12. An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I think that
    you ought to write more on this subject, it might not be
    a taboo matter but usually folks don’t discuss
    these subjects. To the next! Kind regards!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.