As the middle of the fall pledge term for fraternities role around, the amount of time and hazing that occurs increases. More and more colleges are on the lookout for any hazing that is occurring during pledge terms. In the past, fraternities would do extreme activities that were physically and mentally challenging. Today, for most fraternities, hazing has somewhat decreased but more colleges are still on the lookout for anything serious that could be going against the rules of hazing. Let’s face it, all fraternities haze to some extent even though colleges might not allow any hazing at all. The type of things brothers might ask for and have the pledges do can be very time consuming. Having the pledges clean all the houses a couple times a week and run errands for the brothers can take up time from school work and other college activities. Having pledges come to the house at random hours of the day or night can detract from the sleep that is needed for a student to function properly for class. Overall hazing is almost like trying to join a social contract with the brothers in the fraternity. The individuals joining want to be a part of something as a whole and become part of the authority as a brother. According to Locke, explicit consent is required for a social contract. This means that for pledges to enter a social contract they must go through certain activities set by the brotherhood to enter. Locke also states that a contract can be broken if members cease to consent. You can be kicked out of a fraternity for doing something out of the norm of a contract. Joining the social contract of a brotherhood and going through hazing is good thing because it increases accountability, helps create equality between everyone, helps make arrangements predictable, and it is good for regulating friendships.
Becoming a part of the social contract of a brotherhood involves hazing. Hazing is not always chugging alcohol and staying up late at night, which is considered what it is by most people. Instead, it involves activities as a pledge class that brings the group together. During times of hazing, one may feel like they have no one to reach out to, except your pledge class brothers. During activities that the group does together, each individual beings to trust one another where it increases the accountability of one another. These activities make individuals learn about each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Everyone always helps each other out when your pledge brother needs it the most. Going through hazing allows pledges to show that they will consent to the social contract of the brotherhood. It is a way to generate initial consent, which is the process into the social contract. When in middle school or high school, it might take all those years to know everything about some of your best friends, but in a pledge class, it only takes a semester to know everything about everyone, which is why hazing and pledge activities are alright because it makes the most out of joining the social contract of a fraternity. Amy Qualls states in an article, “When you haze someone, you see how much they can take, and how loyal they are to the group. Through these “tests” imposed on the new members, cohesion and positive conformity to the group can grow, and bring the group closer together. Hazing is almost a way of humbling someone: it puts them in their place and makes them equal to everyone else in the group.” This article,http://fhn.fhsd.k12.mo.us/studentpublications/November05/Opinions/hireorfire.html, gives the positive and negative effects of hazing. The positive effects explain that hazing makes people show respect towards others and does not keep people from being overly confident about everything they do. From this, pledges learn respect towards others and form equality between each other. Locke would agree that this explicit consent is required. But from these acts of hazing to enter the fraternity, there is great enjoyment in the end.
The choice made by an individual to enter this social contract and go through hazing with their fellow pledges is a completely free choice. Locke tells us that people enter into contracts with one another because it is in the individual’s state of nature and that they are independent while being able to live peacefully and safe with one another. It is a free choice because the individual can either choose to enter a pledge term of hazing to have consent to join a social contract or not. The hazing they go through will lead them to the good things and enjoyment that comes in return once they finish their hazing as a pledge and enter the brotherhood.
After hazing is complete, entering the social contract of a brotherhood provides a tremendous amount of accountability and equality between everyone and it creates a greater network of friends that will last a lifetime. A fraternity is able to do this because pledges go through events that no one else knows about or ever will know about except your brothers you are entering with in the contract. Should hazing be monitored more by colleges and should there be stricter rules and punishments? Or does hazing help pledges enter a social contract of a strong brotherhood that can never be broken? Which social contract theory do you think applies to relationships between fraternities and pledges?