The term “hazing” is broad. Generally, it is associated with physical or mental torment to gain entry to an organization.
Long associated with fraternity life, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) at the University of Florida, which oversees all 27 fraternity chapters, has attempted to diminish hazing incidents at the school.
Director of Sponsorships for IFC Patrick Sheehan said hazing can be difficult to define because many people have different meanings for the word.
“Hazing can be anything that physiologically or physically damages you,” he said. “Everyone’s a different person so there’s no clear solid, set in stone form that says this constitutes as hazing, this doesn’t constitute as hazing.”
Sheehan said strict protocol set forth by IFC has helped to reduce hazing, a prevent further incidents, yet hazing is difficult to eliminate completely.
“In the past few years, IFC and the University of Florida has taken a strict stance on anti-hazing and they’re taken really big steps to make sure hazing doesn’t occur,” he said.
Despite changes to protocol, many fraternities still face stereotypes they struggle with, especially during recruitment time, said Delta Tau Delta President Jonathan Singh.
“There are many students that come in here and expect a fraternity right out of ‘Animal House.’ They expect parties everywhere. They expect people running around drunk,” Singh said. “But once someone walks in here you see that there is a lot of organization. The fraternity is much more than just for social events.”
He said when fraternities make mistakes, the best option is to encourage his brothers to be good role models.
Todd Jarolimek joined Jonathan Singh’s fraternity this fall and was originally skeptical about what fraternity life would be like. He has now completed pledging and is a full member of his fraternity.
“You’re put into difficult situations and essentially you have to rely on, not only yourself, but your brothers and your pledge brothers to help get you out of this situation,” he said.
With spring recruitment beginning in January, a whole new class of pledges will be joining the IFC community. Singh said through this process many will discover there is a fraternity for everyone.
“We are a diverse group of men, and we believe there’s a chapter for everyone,” he said. “We are much more than a party club. We strive to excel in academics. We strive to excel in the community. We strive to produce leaders.”
Kelsey Meany wrote this story online.