Wenceslao: Hazing

I enrolled in Chemical Engineering after I graduated from high school several years ago. I soon became a student activist, but before that a friend asked me to join an orientation initiated by members of a fraternity in the engineering department. Frats were allowed to legally operate in the school then.

The frat leader who handled the Q and A portion of the orientation process was also an engineering student but was my senior at that time. I knew him to be a member of our varsity chess team, thus my vast respect for him. He would later become my neighbor in our town, and we often talked about the good old days but not about frats. I already buried my memories of that youthful episode.

The frat held the orientation in the school grounds. Seeing familiar faces made me bolder in asking questions about the organization. I didn’t know some frat members didn’t take my aggressive stance well. Had I attended the initiation rites that were set for the weekend, that would have been payback time for them. The paddle hits would have been numerous and heavier. That was what my friend who brought me to the orientation told me. During the initiation rites, some of them sought me out, but I was nowhere to be found.

I was reminded of that frat orientation when two students, one in Luzon and another here in Cebu, died following initiation rites held by a known fraternity. This happened even if our lawmakers already passed an anti-hazing law following the death of a student due to hazing. Which means that some frats are suffering a relapse of sorts. Or they simply have short memories. They forgot, for example, the dire consequences of their actions. In the previous hazing deaths, those involved either landed in jail or had their futures abruptly snatched away from them.

A few years ago, a community-based frat held its initiation rites in one of the mountains near our place. It was good that somebody decided to tip the local police unit about it. Soon, police vehicles appeared and proceeded to raid the upland community where the activity was held. Frat members were hauled to the local jail. A rich sponsor, who was apparently a member of the frat, had to spend a big sum of money to pay the bail. There had been no repeat of such an incident since then.

It’s good that after the recent hazing deaths, lawmakers are now trying to find ways to make the war against hazing more effective. I think making the leaders pay for the consequences of their organizations’ failings is a good move. I also like the idea of educating the youth on the provisions of the anti-hazing law so they will be made aware of the consequences of violating it.

Hazing can actually be done in a number of less violent ways. Frat leaders only have to be creative in making the so-called concept of brotherhood stick to the minds of their members. Can a “no touch” initiation ritual be effective and popular?

It can be. A more intellectual approach on the matter should be better than the physical one.