Hazing is an interesting concept for me. Having been on multiple sports teams during my time at Tufts, the “initiation” process was pretty low key, and not something I would ever consider hazing. However, after having read the material this week and listened to the lectures, the idea of what these initiations were changed.
The first initiation I was a part of required the participation of all the underclass-women. We were given a sheet of things to do, and it was called a “scavenger hunt”, the captains were all careful to not use the word initiation or hazing. It was called freshman fun night, or something to that extent. The tasks were trivial, ranging from doing burpees in the library to writing a poem for one of the members of the mens team, and reciting it to him and filming the process. These tasks were exciting, and I had no problem divvying up who did what because I was only doing the things I felt comfortable with, and they were largely harmless. What I dont think I realized was how it could make someone who didnt feel comfortable with anything that we were doing..it would have probably been alot more difficult.
The scavenger hunt was soon over, and we proceeded to the house of one of the captains. There, we were split into two teams and instructed to do various activities with alcohol, such as take as many shots as we could from a platter with dixie cups filled with vodka (some had water in them but we were unaware), or do a plank and sip beer out of a straw from a bowl, and whichever team finished first won. The upperclass-women cheered us on, and made us feel like a part of the team, regardless of our age.
This initiation/scavenger hunt certainly did its purpose; making the younger ones feel as if they were part of the team. However, what shocked me the most was how my teammates behaved the next day at practice, and the days following. There were very few check ins from the older girls, they still didnt talk to the underclass-women. That sense of camaraderie, that sense of “we’re all in this together” didn’t change how the younger team members were treated at practice.
So why would this initiation even happen, if nothing actually changed in the day to day of the team? Why create a false sense of team when in reality, there is no team? This past week had me reflect on these so called bondings and initiation, and made me realize that they are never for the benefit of the participant (pledge, younger team member, or whatever you want to call it). It’s usually for the benefit of those in charge, to have themselves feel like they are doing something to solidify the team bonds, to make us stronger as a unit. But if that change remains in a sheet of paper with instructions or in a punchbowl filled with beer, and isnt carried through to the fields or sports complex, there is no larger benefit.