Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sports, Greeks, and hazing on the university campus

Hugo Schwyzer is a history and gender studies professor at the Pasadena City College in California. He also has a blog, of which I have a link - just look for his name to the right and *click*. He certainly appears to be on the more liberal side of the Christianity spectrum, but that doesn't mean he never says anything worth saying.

Although I don't consider myself a feminist in the strict sense of the word, Hugo's thoughts here are well worth being read, especially if any of you out there have a student in college who's into either sports or Greek life or both.

A taste:
I think initiation rituals can be very valuable. Requiring frosh or rookies to go through a series of steps before they are accepted as full-fledged members of the team is healthy. It is axiomatic that to suffer together is one way to build community. But not all suffering is the same. Forcing the frosh to run extra laps or do extra push-ups or go through a weekend of brutal fitness camp can build community and fellowship just fine — all without a drop of alcohol and without a single lap dance. Requiring frosh to put on silly skits that don’t involve vulgar humor, nudity, or intoxication (or asking them to memorize all the verses of an ancient school fight song) can have a similar bonding effect. The problem is not with the nature of sports teams/fraternities/sororities, or with initiation rituals — the problem is with a culture that connects that valuable process of initiation to ritualized sexual degradation and binge drinking.

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