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March 17, 1988 - Image 28

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-17

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Good deeds: Giving blood at Bowdoirt (left), brothers from Bowling Green State painting the home of an elderly woman

took place. To add insult to their injuries, they were later convicted
on perjury charges.
Not everyone gets off with only bruises and a battered reputa-
tion. In the spring of 1986 Steven Jones was the dean of pledges for
Omega Psi Phi at North Carolina A&T. Just after his term expired,
he says, his pledge class was put through "Turn Back Night." The
session allegedly began with pledges "encouraged" to drink gal-
lons of cheap wine. Then, according to Jones, "dirt was poured on
the floor. Kerosene and charcoal fluid were poured on the dirt and
it was lit, and they weren't forced, they were directed to walk
through it." Later the pledges were asked to eat dog food and were
paddled. "They were beaten throughout the evening," he claims.
"I saw one get hit in the head." Finally they were driven into the
woods and told to find their way back by morning.
After these incidents came to light, Jones, who still main-
tains that he was innocent and was made into a scapegoat,
pleaded guilty to seven counts of assault with a deadly
weapon. "It's deeply embedded within the black fraternities,"
Jones says now of his hazing days. "I wanted to be a part of that.
Now it all seems so stupid."
As any court-martial judge
can report, never underesti-
mate the potential brutality of
an unsupervised 19-year-old
boy. Addtothatwhatappearsto
be a primal need, and haz-
ing is the result. "This is the
kind of problem that has to be
dealt with anew each year,"
says Rutgers anthropologist Li-
onel Tiger. "It has to do with
some very ancient ways of uni-
sexual male selection. Young
males choose their friends with
almost the same intensity that
they select a mate. You get cases
in which young men, when put
together in groups, act in ways
they never would individually,
particularly when alcohol is in-
volved. We also get this in work-
ing-class groups. We call them

gangs." What a wonderful insight: think of dear old Sigma Schmoo
as a wimpified bunch of Hells Angels, and their behavior makes
perfect sense.
Young men aren't always interested in inflicting themselves on
their brothers; sometimes their targets are young women. This
phenomenon can take the form of gang rape or its first cousin,
acquaintance or date rape. No one knows how many such rapes
occur each year; the conventional wisdom says a great many, and
by no means are all perpetrated by fraternity members.
Yet sexual abuse in the fraternity system is a perennial issue.
Recently no campus has been more strifeful than Illinois. Last
fall's incident at Lambda Chi took on a life of its own. Women
protesters called fraternities "a training ground for rapists." At a
public forum, some speakers appeared in hoods lest they be at-
tacked later. At the same time university administrators suspend-
ed two fraternity members for unrelated sexual assaults. And the
sexuality educator at the university health center reported that
she counseled about two dozen rape victims each semester, as
many as half of whom had allegedly been victimized by frat men.
Fraternity leaders at Illinois agreed that date rape was not a
STEPHEN SHAMES-VISIONS badge of honor, but insisted
that their members should not
be singled out for criticism. In
their defense, they pointed to
one house that raised money
for Women's Wheels, a night-
time transportation program
for students, and another
which distributed copies of a
poster decrying date rape.
Wisconsin was similarly up
in arms over racism. Last fall
300 demonstrators at the Madi-
son campus protested that the
Fiji brothers hadn't learned
their lesson following two chap-
ter suspensions. The first came
after the blackface Fiji Island
party last spring. The chapter
Pledging: Singing the
house song at Pennsylvania


APRIL 1988

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