All Articles Tagged "hazing hbcu"
Does the mainstream news media engage in racial profiling- that is, defining a social problem in America as a minority problem and in particular, a “black” problem? Some commentators would likely state that the “fair and balanced” mainstream media does not engage in such behavior. Conversely, a plethora of political pundits wholeheartedly believe that crime, drugs, welfare, and poverty are only encapsulated in “blackness” as opposed to the larger American society. Over and over, documented research continues to attest to the racial bias in news coverage. And, one particular issue that was recently highlighted as a “black” problem occurred on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel- the topic of hazing at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Upon watching this recent episode, one would reason that hazing is a ritualized process that is solely confined to the campuses of HBCUs. Would this be a factual assumption? Absolutely not!
During the abovementioned episode, Frank Deford specifically explored marching band hazing incidents that occur at HBCUs- known for having arguably some of the best bands in the country. Deford expressly highlighted Southern University and its marching band, “The Human Jukebox,” as backdrops for the storyline that presented the serious implications (i.e., serious injuries, criminal charges, etc.) of such incidents.
In 2008, two first-year French horn players in “The Human Jukebox” were beaten so badly that they had to be hospitalized in intensive care. To be sure, it is relatively safe to state that hazing is a problem among bands across the board. According to objective data, there have been myriad cases of physical hazing among band members at a number of the country’s 80 HBCUs. Documented cases also show a plethora of hazing incidents at predominantly white colleges and universities- primarily in the forms of sexual misconduct and alcohol abuse. Exclusive of the racial demographic of the institution of higher learning, hazing is clearly wrong. And, within the context of journalistic integrity, it is essential that the mainstream media show coverage of serious hazing cases that have occurred across a full gamut of academic institutions- Ivy League institutions, HBCUs, private liberal arts colleges, state universities, etc.
Instead of focusing on factual information, it was evident that Deford and Gumbel’s production team did not want to explore the diverse nature of hazing- rather, opting to focus on the sensationalized “blackness” of the problem. In my professional opinion, I think that Gumbel and his team were clearly wrong for unfair journalism. It actually could have been an outstanding episode that added value and established a greater emphasis on decreasing the frequency of a continuing issue that affects campuses and families across the country. A fair and balanced narrative on Real Sports should have included interviews not only with members of “The Human Jukebox” but also other institutions that have had similar incidents (e.g., University of Wisconsion). Moreover, it should have been an opportunity to discuss potential solutions such as the following:
1. The need for more aggressive anti-hazing organizations on college campuses. Obviously, there are state laws and organizational policies that prohibit hazing activities across the board- whether it’s a band, Greek fraternity or sorority, band fraternity, sports team, etc. Despite this legal framework, certain members of these organizations engage in underground activities that ultimately lead to above-mentioned serious injuries, criminal charges, deaths, etc. The need for aggressive anti-hazing organizations to serve as watchdogs and to help campuses keep a clean slate.
2. The need for colleges to establish anti-hazing hotlines. Some colleges have already begun to establish anti-hazing hotlines that allow students to anonymously report whether they or someone they know have been victims of hazing. This could potentially an effective measure across more campuses.
3. The need to look at new anti-hazing initiatives. Similar to the abovementioned hotlines, there may some new or unique anti-hazing initiatives at certain institutions that could potentially help other colleges.
Hopefully, in the near future, the mainstream media can focus on a more balanced narrative that presents a diverse array of problems and solutions. Hazing is not just a “black” problem.