For Discussion: What To Do About Black Greek-letter Organizations and Hazing?

September 28, 2012  |  

From BlackVoices

On his album, The Blueprint III, Jay-Z rhymes on the song, “What We Talkin’ About”: “What we talkin’ ’bout, fiction or we talkin’ ’bout fact? You talkin’ ’bout fiction? Hold up; pardon my back.” Unfortunately, that’s often how I feel–as one of the few academics, and only law professor, who researches and writes about black Greek-letter organizations (BGLOs)–when I hear most people “talkin’ ’bout” BGLO hazing. This is National Hazing Prevention Week, and my hope is that this week there will be some serious and informed dialogue within and outside BGLOs about hazing. I am, however, not optimistic.

On 19 November 2011, Robert Champion, a 26 year-old, African American drum major in Florida A&M University’s “Marching 100” band, collapsed on a charter bus and died as a result of hazing. Over the past ten months, commentators, critics, and concerned citizens have wondered and opined about why hazing persists within student culture. Many have focused — if not more, without question differently — on black student groups vis-a-vis their white counterparts, with physical violence seen as the main issue for the former and substance abuse the latter.

Read more at BlackVoices

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  • My brother pledged the same year that Vann pledged. We all graduated from Phillips High in Birmingham, AL. There was more to Vann Watts than Omega Psi Phi… he was a straight A student, McDonald’s All American Band Member, Honor Society and he was engaged to Terri. We marvelled at his ability to play a valve trombone. And in the blink of an eye, he was dead. There’s more to my brother. He showed up with his LB’s to Vann funeral. And I always remembered thinking, will he die too. Then my son pledged Kappa and lost his thumb nail to a beating….. We are beating each other and perfect strangers just for the sake of a membership. In college, I decided that I could live without those memberships and if we all value ourselves, then you don’t need them either.

  • Ann

    Please also remember it not only the HBCUs that does the hazing, the mainstream universities does hazing as well. Sadly, you don’t always hear about those stories. This hazing should stop.

  • I refuse to join a sorority because of the hazing and humiliation involved in the initiation process. It’s a shame to think of the degrees to which people will go just to be accepted and considered part of a group. I’m all for people having a club or a place where they feel a sense of belonging and community, but to put people through the tortures that pledges go through is taking it too far. I’m not going to jeopardize my life, my sanity, and my self-esteem to prove that I’m worthy/capable enough to be a part of that group.

    • SMHgurl24

      Amen! I remember a sorority girl telling me once that they didn’t accept a girl because of the way she looked. How I mananged to contain myself is beyond me but I can tell you I never looked at those people the same way again.

  • Allie

    I’m in college right now and i seriously considered joining a sorority but after talking to some people and really thinking i decided not to go for it, and it was primarily fear above all else and it is unfortunate because i really desired that sisterhood

  • L-Boogie

    I am not a part of a sorority because of this. Plus, most of the people when they get accepted into the Boule they act like they are not part of the Black community. Go figure. Plus, they need to do some more history of Blackness. PERSONAL OPINION!

  • Its sad its sad its saddddd! To think that people do that type of stuff to another human being to prove they are worthy of being part of your “club”. frats and sorors need to get a grip on this mess and quickly. Why does proving my value to you as an organization mean i need to shed blood, be beating to a pulp or drinking some i’ll mixtures of who knows what. I can get the scare tactic stuff, the banana in the toilet, the stayin up for hours on end etc. But to put my health and life in danger?