The quote above comes from an anonymous member of the Iowa Beta Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Iowa. (Click here for the full story from The Daily Iowan.) On Monday, the National Fraternity closed the chapter following an investigation that uncovered hazing and other risk management concerns. You can also read coverage from the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
Unfortunately, the story presented is not that unusual. However, it is the quote I put in the title that really struck me. Here is the full comment: “It wasn’t actual hazing. It was hazing in terms of what they define as hazing,” he said. “There was no assault. We didn’t take anyone’s free will away.”
As National Hazing Prevention Week takes place on campuses across the country, this quote truly demonstrates how hard the challenge to prevent hazing can be. This student has decided that hazing can take place on a sliding scale of danger. He likely learned it from his fraternity brothers, and helped perpetuate the culture of hazing in his chapter.
To this young man, and fraternity men everywhere, you do not get to define hazing for yourself. It is defined by the law, and more importantly, by the values and beliefs (and policies) that you swore to uphold in your ritual.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon is a fine organization that does great things for the fraternal movement. The University of Iowa is an excellent institution, and has some of the finest professionals in the business working with fraternities and sororities. These comments have embarrassed these two institutions, and the fraternal movement. There is no gray area in hazing!