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Arguments For & Against

Current members and alumni of Cornell organizations that have hazed new members have raised a range of arguments both for and against hazing. Some individuals strongly support hazing, others oppose it, and many others are ambivalent about it.  

Below are some of the costs and benefits that Cornell students and alumni have attributed to hazing: 

Benefits to the Group

  • Brings the group closer together
  • Weeds out people who don’t want to take the process seriously
  • Humbles new members
  • Keeps traditions in tact
  • Helps the group members learn about each other
  • Cultivates shared pride
  • Promotes discipline within group
  • Makes good stories to tell later  

Cost to the Group

  • Sanctions for getting caught
  • Risk losing the organization
  • Fosters mistrust between new and current members
  • Leads to dissension among current members
  • Liability risks
  • Poor commitment of members who resent being hazed
  • Undermines long-term commitment by alumni
  • May drive away desirable new members
  • Contributes to poor facility conditions
  • Leads to conflicts with alumni 

Benefit to hazer

  • Feel a sense of pride in continuing traditions
  • Keeping it a secret makes one feel elite
  • Promotes bonding with other members who are hazing
  • Get to make others go through what you had to go through
  • Feel less angry about having been hazed
  • Fun to humiliate and intimidate others

Cost to the hazer

  • Time consuming
  • Stressful to plan and keep secret
  • Discomfort of playing role that is inconsistent with one’s values
  • Undermines trust with new members
  • Creates conflict with members who hold different views
  • Risk of judicial, criminal, or civil consequences
  • Impact of judicial action on graduate school or government applications
  • Potential rejection by prospective employers who are aware of the hazing  

Benefits to the person who is hazed

  • Provides a sense of accomplishment
  • Helps you learn about yourself
  • Challenges you to develop coping skills
  • Makes you feel like part of the group
  • Develops close friendships with other new members
  • Prepare you for emotional challenges in life
  • Promotes self-discipline
  • Allows you do to crazy things  

Cost to the person who is hazed

  • Loss of friendships outside of the organization
  • Resentment towards current members
  • Exhaustion
  • Emotional duress from humiliation/intimidation
  • Decreased academic performance
  • Stress-related illness
  • Accidental injuries
  • Inflicted injuries (e.g., from being kicked or beaten)
  • Decreased athletic performance
  • Physical pain
  • Depression or other mental health problems
  • Re-traumatization of past abuse
  • Severe intoxication (resulting in medical emergencies)
  • Seizures (from extreme duress)
  • Maiming (e.g., scarring from being paddled until flesh is torn)
  • Death (the second hazing death recorded in the U.S. was a Cornell student)

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