‘End pledging’: America’s dark history of hazing gone wrong

Banfield

(NewsNation) — To some people, hazing is nothing more than a time-honored tradition. Others are advocating to end it completely.

This week, two former members of a University of Missouri fraternity have been indicted for a hazing incident that left a 19-year-old student blind and unable to walk or communicate after his parents say he was forced to drink a full bottle of vodka.

Similarly, in 2020, Tyler Perino broke his silence as a survivor of hazing rituals at Miami University. He says he was beaten and forced to drink alcohol until he blacked out as a Delta Tau Delta pledge.

“I was hazed with alcohol. I was physically beaten with paddles and just degraded both physically and mentally,” Perino said during an appearance Monday night on NewsNation’s “Banfield.”

Perino said he was told that drinking was tradition. He was also a transfer student at the time and although he didn’t really want to be a part of it, he felt that joining a fraternity was the only option to make new friends.

“Even though some of the hazing was way too much, and I definitely wish I didn’t put up with it. It was kind of the whole power and control aspect of wanting to be apart of something and wanting to fit in,” Perino said.

He felt that if he didn’t partake in the hazing, he would have been criticized. There was also the fact that he was going through the hazing with other pledge brothers.

“All of them seemed to be very dedicated and really into it and wanted to get through it. It seemed very important to them. I didn’t want to be the only one to walk away from it,” Perino added.

“Hazing speaks to this loyalty to the organization,” clinical psychologist Dr. John Duffy said on “Banfield.” “It’s based in tradition. It’s pitched to these young men as a right of passage that will bring you closer into some kind of brotherhood. In the end, it causes a great deal of trauma that looks like bullying. But it’s bullying in the extreme.”

Perino was walked into a room blindfolded, and his hands were on a wall. He was then paddled for about a minute. He said they played a game called “chug until you puke.”

Perino quit the fraternity right after the incident happened.

Hazing isn’t just happening on college campuses. There have been incidents of hazing reported on sports teams and in the military.

Hazing expert Hank Nuwer started writing about medical hazing in the 90s.

In his latest book, called “Hazing: Destroying young lives,” Nuwer calls for a complete end to pledging.

“I think the number one thing with fraternities is to end pledging. For me, it’s a mathematical equation. Pledging equals hazing. Hazing equals pledging. It has to be stopped for at least for some time,” Nuwer said.

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