College years should be full of new experiences and growth, but there is often trepidation about being in a new place. Making friends and feeling a sense of belonging is important, and many students seek out fraternities and sororities to fill this need.
For most, pledging and going through an initiation for a fraternity is a challenging but safe experience. So how can you tell the difference between brotherly rituals and dangerous situations?
Initiation versus hazing
Requiring new members to participate in an initiation gives them a sense of accomplishment and the shared experiences foster friendship and bonding among the brotherhood. While the specifics of each fraternity’s rituals are usually kept secret, they often involve slightly embarrassing or challenging tasks. But if taken too far, these ceremonies can become a crime.
The process veers into the category of hazing when humiliating and dangerous conditions get imposed on would-be members. If the routine involves acts that cause or could cause physical harm or emotional trauma, students could face criminal charges.
Maryland hazing law
State law considers the act of hazing a form of abuse. As a misdemeanor charge, this is a student, or group of students, intentionally creating a situation where another student could potentially be seriously injured while initiating into an organization like a fraternity. If found guilty, individuals may face up to six months of jail time and a fine.
Knowing where to draw the line can make the difference between a shared sense of belonging and traumatic injury. Keep initiations safe for everyone to avoid hazing consequences.