Hazards of the haze

Six sorority members at Rutgers face criminal charges for hazing.

A dual mentality about college greek organizations exists; one side brings to mind handshakes, exchanges and social networking, the other summons images of hooding, paddling and binge drinking. While fraternities and sororities have certainly changed over time, both good and bad traditions persist. Between Jan. 18 and 25, pledges at Rutgers UniversityâÄôs Sigma Gamma Rho sorority were repeatedly hit âÄî one woman reported being struck 201 times âÄî and denied food at an off-campus apartment. Authorities were alerted after one of the pledges, too bruised to sit down, was taken to the hospital by her mother. In the aftermath, six members were arrested on aggravated hazing charges and both the university and national leaders at Sigma Gamma Rho suspended the Rutgers chapter. Further investigation is still underway, and the six charged members may face disciplinary action or expulsion under RutgersâÄô student conduct code. With a strong greek community on our own campus, reports like these once again stir imaginations as to what can happen behind shaded windows and shuttered mouths. Even though many fraternities and sororities have publicly denounced hazing, one of the women beaten at Rutgers told the Newark Star-Ledger, âÄúThey told us there was no hazing, that they didnâÄôt believe in it.âÄù Greek organizations, like other campus-sponsored groups, must operate with decency and transparency. The events at Rutgers warn us that under the protection of secrecy, hazing still happens. Students and fraternities can work together to create an open environment and relegate this barbaric practice to the past.