Editor’s Note: In this story it was incorrectly attributed to Joyce Ester that “the practice of hazing was common practice for fraternity founders.” Ester actually said it was not common practice for fraternity founders and the practice was adopted later in the history of greek organizations.
Also, in a later quote attributed to Ester, the words “parties” and “philanthropy” were transposed. The quote should have read, “The public needs to know about our philanthropy just as much as our parties.”
The Daily Nexus regrets these errors.
Fraternity members gathered in Isla Vista Theater instead of around a keg Wednesday night to discuss hazing, sexual assault and alcohol awareness.
Joyce Ester, a graduate student and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, shared the results of her research on hazing within fraternities and sororities.
“The problem we have is there’s so many different definitions of hazing and so many different attitudes toward hazing,” Ester said. “A lot of literature out there is written by non-greeks and it’s filled with junk. I don’t know if it has to do with personal bias against the greek system or what, but it’s important that we do our own research.”
The practice of hazing was common practice for fraternity founders, but is no longer acceptable in today’s society, Ester said.
“Hazing didn’t get started with fraternities and sororities, it got started with the freshman class,” Ester said. “For whatever reason, we picked up the habit and ran with it.”
Ester recited some fraternal creeds, which promote morals, truth and honor, and contrasted these creeds with the activities involved in hazing.
“A lot of times we’re moving away from these values,” Ester said. “We’re attracting the men who only want to party and see how many beers they can drink. If it’s just going to be about partying, then why attach the Greek letters?”
Ester also said she criticizes the concept of hazing as a right of passage.
“A rite of passage is supposed to be men leading boys into manhood, or women leading girls into womanhood,” Ester said. “What I usually see in hazing is boys trying to take boys into manhood or girls trying to take girls in womanhood, and that’s garbage.”
Ester recited a laundry list of actions that have been defined as hazing. These actions apply to all university-affiliated groups, not just the greek system. The list includes servitude, kidnapping, alteration of appearance (e.g. tattoos, drastic haircuts), consumption of unwanted food or liquids, paddling, simulated death or burial and of course consumption of mass quantities of drugs and/or alcohol.
“What kind of things are you condoning?” Ester said. “If you can’t go to your brother and tell him to knock if off, where’s the brotherhood and why did you let him in the organization in the first place?”
There are myths that hazing builds unity in the pledge class, that pledges want to be hazed and that hazing lets pledges get to know the fraternity members better, Ester said.
“If your pledges have to go through hell for four weeks to know your organization, I would offer that you have a very shallow organization,” Ester said. “It’s got to start from the inside. We’ve got to be able to pull our brothers aside and tell them to stop.”
Ester ended by telling the fraternities to focus on the more positive aspects of the greek system.
“Fraternal organizations have done some wonderful things for our country that nobody sees. The public needs to know about our parties just as much as our philanthropy.”
Men Against Rape members Max Anders, an undeclared sophomore, and Sarah Crowley, senior geography major, spoke to the frats about sexual assault. Anders defined sexual assault as any act of unwanted rape, copulation, sodomy or penetration with a foreign object. The main focus is the issue of consent, Crowley said.
“Silence is not consent,” Crowley said.
There are forms of nonverbal consent, such as cooperative action and positive participation, Crowley said.
“Assault is completely different,” Crowley said. “There is no choice for one person involved, and power is exerted.”
One in three women will be sexually assaulted in her life, and 98 percent of sexual assaults are acquaintance rapes, Anders said. One myth of sexual assault is that women often lie about being sexually assaulted.
“The vast majority do not lie. An FBI statistic says that less than five percent of sexual assault victims are lying, which is the same as any other crime,” Anders said. “We put a lot of blame on [the victims] and that’s messed up. Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Because of this myth, there are a lot of women, and men for that matter, who don’t report the crime once it’s happened.”
Crowley compared the use of alcohol as an excuse for sexual assault to the use of alcohol as an excuse for public indecency.
“When you’re sober, none of you would think it’s a good idea to pull your penis out and put it on the window of a cop car. That doesn’t change when you’re drunk, because you made that decision long before you got drunk,” Crowley said. “This is the same for sexual assault.”
Anders said the purpose of Men Against Rape is to let men know that sexual assault affects them just as much as women.
“The vast majority of people committing this crime are men. If men would just stop doing it, the problem would be a lot smaller,” Anders said. “The most important thing you can do is know how to be there for a person and believe that person.”
The night finished off with a question and answer forum with the alcohol awareness division of Student Health, led by Ian Kominsky. Each frat house had to submit two questions on note cards for Kominsky to read aloud and answer for the group.
Questions asked included, “How bad is it to mix shrooms and alcohol?”, “Is it bad if I continually black out?”, “Does consumption of alcohol directly lead to an attraction to large women?”, “What’s the treatment for dying from alcohol poisoning?”, “Is it physically possible to drink 100 beers?”, “What is the Matrix?”, “Does drinking beer really give you whiskey dick?” and “Why does J