Hazing and Pledging — Not Synonymous TermsThis is a response to the question asked by Dr. (Ricky) Jones in the Oct. 21, 2004, edition of Black Issues (see “BI Forum”) “Is it time to disband Black fraternities and sororities?”
This question reminds me of the often-heard refrain, “Is it time to disband HBCUs?” At this historical moment, the conditions or circumstances that led to the establishment of Black fraternities and sororities are still very much in existence. The noble purposes and objectives of all of the Pan-Hellenic organizations hold true today more than ever.
The writer seems to be of the opinion that hazing and pledging are the same. They are not synonymous terms. If one believes that hazing only affects Black Pan-Hellenic organizations, that is a faulty belief. This malady is very much prevalent among majority fraternities and sororities. Do you hear that they should disband? It occurs at boot camps in the military, college bands, professional athletic teams and so on. They commonly refer to this as a rite of passage.
Pledging was an indoctrination process whereby applicants learned the history and philosophy of the various organizations and it also provided an opportunity for young men and women to bond, and form lasting friendships based upon that philosophy.
Any death or maiming of an individual simply because he or she wants to join an organization is simply wrong. No one is trying to justify this problem. The writer I am sure is aware that Kappa Alpha Psi outlawed hazing in 1949.
Prior to outlawing pledging, very few if any deaths were reported. I was a pledge in 1950, and I do not recall any broken limbs among our group.
The answer I believe is in the selection process. If the prospective members believe strongly in pride, scholarship, respect for the institution, respect for your fellow man and a desire to bond with men with similar beliefs, hazing will not be a concern.
Does this mean that some will be rejected? Of course, that’s part of the selection process.
I, too, am a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. I was initiated at the Gamma Phi of Kappa Alpha Psi in 1951. As a Province Polemarch (regional president), I approved over 2,000 applicants for membership in Kappa Alpha Psi. Did I experience hazing problems? Yes, I did. We have in place means to deal with it. I am a strong believer in the Pan-Hellenic system. The good far outweighs the bad.
Robert T. Hughes
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