Letter: Why People Allow Themselves To Be Hazed

RE: WILL SOMEBODY EXPLAIN HAZING TO ME? Dear Len: I understand why it is difficult from an outside perspective to understand why someone would subject themselves to the abuse of hazing. As a hazing prevention expert, it is one of the most common questions I get. But when we stop…


Dear Len: I understand why it is difficult from an outside perspective to understand why someone would subject themselves to the abuse of hazing. As a hazing prevention expert, it is one of the most common questions I get.

But when we stop and think for just a moment about the pain of social rejection, and read the studies showing how traumatic this can be, it is much easier to see the reasons behind someone’s willingness to go along with whatever is asked of them in order to be part of a group with perceived social status whether a fraternity, sports team or elite marching band.

On another note, I want to suggest that blaming the victim is NEVER a good solution. This has been commonplace in sexual assault situations, and thankfully is becoming less so, and even of late in domestic violence as well, but it is not ok to ask why someone would subject themselves to this kind of abuse.

There are a variety of reasons why they do. It is more important, instead, to talk about how we can break the cycle of abuse whether from hazing, assault or other types of violence. Particularly in the case of hazing, people are often doing to others what was done to them. In order to change behavior, we have to help them understand the real harm that is done by having more victims speak up and tell their stories. The shame they already feel at perhaps feeling like they are weak because they “couldn’t take it” is often enough to keep them from speaking up, but when we heap more blame upon them, there is little chance of them coming forward.


I speak to hundreds of college students each year about this topic, and it is my goal to bring hazing out of the shadows and into the light of day by encouraging conversations. Only when we can break the silence and secrecy of these practices can we truly make progress.

Hazing has been around for centuries, and it is only really in the past 30 years or so that society has really started to have a problem with it. Hazing used to be documented in high school and college year books and other sources with bemusement.

I appreciate your asking the question, and allowing for discussion about this issue. I hope it will lead to more conversation and understanding of this serious problem.


Tracy Maxwell
Founder, HazingPrevention.Org

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Tappa Kegga Brew October 14, 2014 at 1:03 pm

These kids allow themselves to be hazed because some people have such fragile egos that they can’t imagine not being a part of some ridiculous elitist organization. If they don’t get into one of these bottom feeding clubs, they would have to use their own charm and personality to meet people. Oh horror!

Guest October 14, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Since hazing only occurs in elitist organizations…

Tappa Kegga Brew October 14, 2014 at 8:55 pm

No, but that’s what the story is about genius.

euwe max October 14, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Same reason people vote Republican.

urbantrout October 14, 2014 at 1:54 pm

I’m trying to decide if the particular asshole above is actually Tom Turnipseed or Brett Bursey……I’m leaning towards Turnipseed, as his mind is obviously scrambled, and ol’ Tom was hooked up to the jumper cables years ago.

la October 14, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Way to channel the ghost of Lee Atwater.

urbantrout October 15, 2014 at 9:09 pm

The pussy Republicans need more street fighters like Atwater.

Buz Martin October 14, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Brett Bursey, I’m proud to say, is an old friend of mine, though I have not been around him since the early ’70s.. We disagree on a lot, but he sticks with his principles. And he’s often right. The absurd “Free Speech Zone” issue is one example. Another is his part of Occupy Columbia. They ALL had the right to be there, and had gone through the proper channels to be able to basically camp out at the State House. Haley busted them to, as usual, impress the tea party types. Thankfully, they won the day in the end.

Buz Martin October 14, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Isn’t Tom Turnipseed a folk hero who went around the country planting turnips way, way back in the day?

shifty henry October 14, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Shamefully, I embarrassed myself during a private conversation with Mrs. Turnipseed — once.

urbantrout October 14, 2014 at 4:14 pm

True, Mr. Bursey is a pretty civil guy for a Marxist. I retract my accusation with apologies. The more I think about it, this “euwemax” is probably Dick Harpootlian. And I’ll make no apologies for mentioning that walking, reeking pile of ebola-infested diarrhea.

Buz Martin October 14, 2014 at 7:00 pm

On that we agree. I detest Harpootlean far more than I do Vince Sheheen.

Same ol' Same ol' October 14, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Simple, the more difficult it is to gain entrance into said organizations, the more faithful the person is to it. You’re one of us now that you’ve gone through the initiation, unlike the unwashed masses. Just look at the masonic lodge or any organization that requires elaborate initiation exercises.

Bible Thumper October 14, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Len Anthony is a mixed human-Vulcan. He will never understand. He thinks that he thinks logically, but he doesn’t. He thinks the human mind is only for calculations, no soul or feelings. He doesn’t understand why others don’t have his “critical thinking skills. The world just doesn’t make sense to him.

Buz Martin October 14, 2014 at 3:10 pm

It’s a tribal thing. All of the different races and nationalities that have to this continent over the centuries, to come together as the USA, were, as some point in their history, just as tribal as the native Indians. Vestiges of tribal initiation rituals remain in the dominant culture, and also in subcultures. Frats, sororities, some lodges (still, it is rumored), military units, gangs, cults. In the Victorian and Edwardian eras, this was even more the case, and various bizarre implements, used in hazing new members of some of the most exclusive and prestigious orders and lodges, are now prized vintage collectibles.


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