By their own admission, the hazing to which sophomores Will Schwartz and Ben Boor were subjected during their pledge process last year “wasn’t extreme.” What happened to them seems fairly clearly to defy TKEs hazing rules, but honestly, so do scavenger hunts. To a certain extent, one expects that admission to an exclusive secret club based in ritual requires some period of symbolic ‘testing.’ Those seeking the approval of people already in the club might have had the chance see it coming.
But not everyone that got hurt by TKE’s hazing activities last year got to see it coming. The woman that had the misfortune to sleep with a pledge that kissed and told didn’t see it coming. The other woman who was tricked into playing Grendel’s mother while sitting in the Gizmo in peace didn’t see it coming. And what they got wasn’t a mean slogan on a t-shirt or responsibility for the next run to the dessert room in the cafeteria. They got cruel, public, personal humiliation. They got objectified and demeaned for the sake of a joke.
Maybe the most appalling thing is that it never occurred to the TKEs to apologize on their own. Only after a nonmember pointed out that their actions were offensive did they consider that maybe they ought to repent for humiliating two innocent bystanders for some immature laughs. Not even during the interviews for this article did they seem, finally, to get it: new hegemon Alex Perry said, by way of explaining their apology, “We didn’t want her to be associated with a beast or a fat chick.” The fact that Perry still doesn’t see equating “beasts” and overweight women as insulting indicates that TKE’s attitude problem may go too deep for a no-hazing contract to repair.
Don’t tell us your problems were caused by individual members of the fraternity. Isn’t the backbone of a fraternity the character of its brothers? Can you even claim that the organization wasn’t behind the hazing if it was, in some cases, committed by the president as the rest of the organization stood by?
One would imagine, given Knox’s current climate of questioning how the Greek system affects the rest of the campus, that a fraternity that began the year on social probation would take care not to drag non-Greeks into their hazing games. TKE owes a lot of apologies: to women, to the pledge class they hazed, and to the Greek system whose reputation was taken down another notch by frat boys behaving just as the stereotype dictates.