Hazing was silly and pointless, but not unbearable

I was stunned when I received a letter from my college fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, dated Jan. 12, that the Beta Alpha chapter at Indiana University in Bloomington was, effective immediately, suspended due to continued hazing.

Hazing is often a part of initiation rites for prospective members of a fraternity. Such practices may range from relatively harmless pranks to “protracted patterns of behavior that rise to the level of abuse or criminal misconduct.” Hazing is sometimes against the law or prohibited by colleges and universities because it may involve physical or psychological abuse.

I was a member of the 1969 Delt pledge class at IU as a sophomore. Most of my pledge brothers were freshmen. And that first semester as a pledge meant undergoing hazing of various measures to make us all prove our desire to be a lifelong member of the fraternity.

For me the experience was pretty silly and pointless, but it wasn’t unbearable. We pledges had to wear an onion around our necks at one point, and whenever an “active” (full-fledged upperclassman “brother”) told us to take a bite, we had to do it. Or we might be told to drop and do 20 pushups. And during “Hell Week” when we were just a week away from being officially initiated into the brotherhood, we had to wear burlap sacks for underwear.

And on “Hell Night” prior to our initiation ceremony, the hazing got a little more intense with certain rituals and games that were not all that pleasant to us but no doubt amusing to the active members.

Anyway, all this is background for the fact that it was hazing that spelled the demise of the Beta Alpha chapter of Delta Tau Delta, which was first established at Indiana University in 1870 and had operated continuously since 1887.

According to the letter that I received, “This action was not taken without prior warning.” A membership review in January last year resulted in “several suspensions and expulsions.” Members were aware of “conduct requirements” and chose to ignore them during the fall of 2016. In December, the Central Office “received notice from Indiana University of several reports of hazing within the Beta Alpha pledge education program.”

“There is no place for hazing in Delta Tau Delta. It is absolutely contrary to our values and will not be tolerated,” said Jim Russell, executive vice president of the national fraternity, who sent the letter announcing the cessation of operations at the Bloomington fraternity.

“Fraternities and sororities are an integral part of campus life,” said IU’s Vice Provost for Student Affairs Lori Reesor in a news report. “However, the university is committed to providing a safe educational environment for everyone and does not tolerate actions by any group or individual affiliated with the university that put this at risk.”

Following my second semester at IU, my first as an active member of the fraternity, I moved out of the fraternity and into an apartment and never participated in the fraternity’s activities afterward. It just wasn’t for me. <br>

<i> Kerry Hubartt is editor of The News-Sentinel. </i>