SAE’s pledging ban does little to fix the hazing problem
Sigma Alpha Epsilon recently announced it has banned the pledging process for all chapters nationwide. New members will become brothers once they accept their bids, a process similar to sorority recruitment. The decision is a response to several deaths relating to hazing during the pledging process and will take effect immediately.
Lawsuits against fraternities have recently sparked public interest. Horrifying tales of pledges being forced to consume goldfish, do drugs or consume lethal amounts of alcohol have been reported. In light of these incidents, the fraternity needed to adapt in order to survive. However, hazing is a cultural problem rather than a structural problem, and changing the recruitment process will not solve the problem.
According to the fraternity’s new guidelines, there can no longer be “activities or events in which newly signed members must prove their worth, complete tasks or any other recreation or notion of pledging their commitment to the fraternity.” While this appears to be a step in the right direction, it does not address the issue of partying, which is when the effects of binge drinking are most severe. While traditional pledging, including the typical tests of strength and bravado has been banned, the process could simply be replaced with equally dangerous booze-fueled frenzies.
Unfortunately, the decision does little change the fraternity culture. The hazing process is merely the tip of the iceberg, and SAE will need to combat binge drinking if wishes to stay out of the limelight.
Banning pledging is the just first step of a long journey. Hazing is deeply rooted in frat culture and although younger generations are beginning to reject the “bully mentality,” binge drinking is still an issue of considerable weight. Rather than play the PR game, fraternities need to be held accountable for their actions, look out for their brothers and please, stay away from the goldfish.