Hazing

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Close bonding of groups is the intended outcome of hazing rituals, practices which take place in fraternities and sororities, the military, sports teams, clubs, gangs, some secret societies and some workplaces. Hazing practices can include elements that are physical, mental, sexual, violent or even criminal. In the United States, hazing is associated primarily with university and college Greek-letter fraternities and sports teams - some hazing has become a criminal matter: many states have anti-hazing laws and many universities have outlawed it.

In Britain, similar practices often take place as part of university sports teams. A number of students from the rugby team of University of Gloucestershire were suspended in 2009 after a video circulated online of a man dressed in a Nazi-style uniform ordered initiates to drink alcohol to the point of vomiting and then parade through the streets of Cheltenham with plastic bags covering their heads. A student was quoted as saying that during an initiation ritual "We had to put matches in private inappropriate areas and set them on fire whilst drinking more beer".[1] British public schools (privately-funded schools that historically were open to any member of the public able to pay the fees) and other boarding schools had, for many centuries, a practice officially sanctioned by the schools known as fagging where younger pupils would have to perform various menial tasks for older students (the origin of a contemporary British use of the word "fag" to describe a menial or dull chore) in order to teach servitude.

Military hazing rituals are ancient, although they may blur into legitimate high-stress training. Given the increasing integration of women into militaries, such rituals are no longer same-sex. Relatively gentle hazing is common in navies, and indeed in civilian shipping, for those who are making their first sea crossings of the Equator.

References

  1. BBC News, Action over 'Nazi' initiations, 23 February 2009