How hazing rumors are affecting Theta
Blake Berry '23
Kappa Alpha Theta, better known to most of Randolph-Macon’s student body simply as Theta, was recently thrust into the spotlight over serious allegations of hazing their new members. This incident occurred one night during the first half of Fall Semester, when multiple Freshman looking to join the sorority returned to their dorms with signs of sickness.
Because so little is known about the incident, rumors began to spread around campus about what really happened at Theta, who was involved, and what was going to happen to those who broke Macon’s strict anti-hazing rules.
Randolph-Macon’s College Hazing Policy defines hazing as “recklessly or intentionally endangering the health or safety of a student or students or to inflict bodily injury on a student or students in connection with or for the purpose of initiation, admission into or affiliation with, or as condition for continued membership in a club, organization, association, fraternity, sorority, or student body regardless of whether the student or students so endangered or injured participated voluntarily in the relevant activity.”
Other situations that are considered hazing include: the use of alcohol, paddling, physical and psychological shocks, quests or treasure hunts, involuntary nudity, as well as any other activities that may not take place on the official campus, or are “not consistent with academic achievement, College policy, or federal, state or local laws.”
In order to protect the identity of those affected, members of the College and Administration are not allowed to comment on the situation. Campus Safety, Dean McGhee, and even first responders refused to provide any information to the Yellow Jacket regarding what happened at Theta.
Members of Theta also did not comment on the issue, as their national headquarters have forbidden them from speaking on the topic. However, one member did state that their girls have finally begun to recover from the effects of the incident.
Hazing is a problem that continues to plague all sorts of organizations in Colleges, middle and high schools, sports teams, clubs, and even jobs. Places like Randolph-Macon take great care to inform their students about what hazing is, how to identify it, and how to avoid possible encounters.
This information is detailed in multiple places, including official websites, multiple different forms of student handbooks, as well as being a major focus during the Freshman orientation process once school begins.
However, with such an incident occurring at the College even with multiple different forms of information provided to students to identify and avoid hazing, what more can be done to stop the spread of hazing, not only in the Greek Life community, but in sports, clubs, and other similar groups?
Education is only half the battle, as even the most educated on a topic can still make mistakes and find themselves in an unadmirable situation. Students and members of the Randolph-Macon community at large should be more focused on trying to break the stigma of importance in hazing, or the glorification of the process as a whole.
Many different forms of media tend to feature forms of hazing, this can range from kid’s television like Spongebob to R-rated films like "22 Jump Street," which show acts of initiation in order to bring someone into a community, generally through means of pain or humiliation to the person who is trying to become one with the group.
This kind of support for the act normalizes it in the minds of viewers, who generally won’t question the actions of the movie or form of media they’re absorbing, causing them to be more likely to become involved with hazing in some way.
Setting the rules and guidelines can only be applied to those who are affected by hazing. Those who don’t come in contact with it possibly will never have to worry or think about it again, allowing more and more hazing to take place without action being taken.
There is no simple solution to preventing hazing, but the steps the College has taken in both the incident with Theta, and their overall no-tolerance policy for hazing will have great impact on the amount of hazing incidents they will encounter as a whole.
Ultimately, Randolph-Macon and other organizations have no way to predict when or where hazing will take place, so their only true option is to provide information to keep the public informed on the signs and ways to avoid it. The process that both Randolph-Macon and Kappa Alpha Theta have taken in order to protect the feelings and identities of those involved in the incident have been very admirable.
Keeping the situation quiet in order to prevent serious rumors from spreading and misinformation becoming fact will prove to be the healthiest option for the community as a whole.