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Almost every college student knows someone in a fraternity, is friends with a ‘brother’, or is themselves involved in Greek life. Yet the process of becoming a ‘brother’ is rarely talked about.
The pledging process consists of newly inducted members putting up with humiliating abuse from the ‘brothers’. All this is in an effort to reach acceptance, or initiation, as a member of the fraternity. The theory remains that if you tolerate this abuse for a specific amount of time (it may be weeks or months) then you’ll have friends for life and finally feel like you belong. These initiations consist of meaningless and disgusting tasks designed to prove one’s masculinity.
Initiations are the centerpieces of many different religions and cultures. Men, or elders, induct boys and young men into a society of adult men. However, while initiations in a fraternity-driven world attempt to follow suit they fall short. It is more boys initiating other boys into a weird society where the justification for acting like young boys comes from doing idiotic and gross remedial tasks. It is a cycle of peers initiating peers through a method that takes place simply because adults are not present.
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Simply put, these young men just want acceptance from the alpha males in the social scene, the older fraternity ‘brothers’. Freshman-aged boys seduce themselves into believing that the upperclassmen, who are only a few years older, will open the door to manhood. Once accepted into the fraternity boys believe they will have nothing else to prove. That their task is complete.
The reality, however, looks quite different. Going through the hazing process of a fraternity has no bearing on whether you are a man or not. Fraternity hazing comes at a strange time. These boys leave for college and hear the message: grow up, learn how to become a man. The expectation is that they will have responsibilities, be professional, etc. Yet, there is a group of slightly older peers who seem to believe it is time for the opposite, promoting binge drinking, sleeping around, and being carefree and irresponsible.
So really, what we see with fraternities is a culture in which young men believe they are becoming men by acting like immature young boys with other young men who are only slightly older.
Hi, I'm Carly Berry, a sophomore at Boston University.