The old custom of hazing

Today, I read in the news that there was an extreme case of hazing at a sororiety from the University of Groningen. A guy was hit on the head so much, he needed to go to an hospital. Update: someone actually stepped on his head, causing brain edema.

This reminded me of the old "custom" my high school had. We were allowed to harras lower class students with water guns and white powder on one day in our last year at the school, as a way to de-stress from our important final exams. It is now that I realize how absurd this is. We were taught that it was okay to chase after younger and weaker people with water guns, buckets of water, and flower that clumps in your hair and is hard to wash out. Somehow it felt okay because I went through the same, as a younger student at that school for 5 years straight and you were allowed to do that back to others only once. I think it must be a nice feeling to be on the powerful side instead of the weaker side and to change the traumatic memory to a good one. But isn't this the reason why bullied people become bullies themselves? Why did we learn to retaliate whenever we get hurt? It can actually be a fun thing like a color run. But there are always people who go too far and start to enjoy humiliating people, continue to harras them every step they take, and chase them around like a prey. I also didn't understand why we were not allowed to fight back and needed to endure it. I remember just hitting the tall and higher class attackers with my heavy backpack as a small girl. I was already hated by everyone, so I didn't care. But I guess this must be the reason why the guy who got hit on the head didn't report it to the police. Update: the victim isn't pursuing further actions after hearing that the person who hurt him had given up his membership at the sorority. The sorority is also going to stop making students sign a secrecy contract (there is such a thing!?) about what happens during introduction week. Update 2: the victim has reported it to the police after all.

I hope all this didn't cause our child-like, moldable brain to be re-wired in a way that it is fun and enjoyable to hurt people.

Let me also explain why people who experienced it as an harasser or as a victim of hazing feel that it has a bonding effect. Having a common enemy (especially one who is weaker and not threatening) as a group creates a strong bond. You agree to only attack others who fall out of the group, lower ranked, and not "one of us", so you feel superior, safe, and protected. The act is also close to a criminal act, so you have to trust each other enough not to rat each other out. Nothing bonds better than a common secret. The victims feel closer to each other as they experience the same, awful things, instead of all by yourself, which is lonely and scarier. When you get hit, you hope the other victims would protect you from any worse to happen. You also bond with your harasser quickly, because it is a form of Stockholm syndrom. You need to be kind to them, so that they be kind to you in return and won't hurt you too much. Your life is basically in their hands. You feel a sense of relief and you are grateful to them, when you make it out alive and still in one piece. You will mistakenly think that the huge sense of happiness comes from being a member. Since you needed to go through a lot to get into an exclusive, special group, you are also less likely to leave and you would stay loyal to them even when you don't agree to all things they think, say, or do. You will also keep your mouth shut about what happens there to protect your group members or out of fear of retaliation after knowing what they are capable of.

I am not saying that all sororities are bad, since I don't know anything about it as I stayed away from them during my time at the university. But it is stupid to keep the tradition of hazing up under the excuses of "old traditions" and "we have been doing this for years". You can also bond in positive, non-cruel ways like a survival trip, where you have to depend on each other and work together as a team, or the recently becoming very popular prison escape games, using your wits and different perspectives to get out of the prison together.

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