End the tradition of violence

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By Leska Ang

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Friday, July 4, 2014


FRATERNITIES are century-old traditions that began in the United States. Phi Beta Kappa, the first Greek-letter student organization, was founded over two centuries ago at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Two hundred thirty-eight years after the establishment of the first fraternity, many others have followed and advanced the system of ‘brotherhood’ (‘sisterhood’ for sororities) up to the organizations that we know today. It is a tradition of legacy, exclusivity, and a lifelong friendship of people with a shared vision.

In organizations like these, there are many customs and rituals that are unique to the body and kept secret – a code, perhaps, or a secret handshake.

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Hazing, for the most part, is a symbolic act signifying a neophyte going through a ring of fire and coming out anew, baptized into the brotherhood. It is the final step in the recruitment process, common to sports teams, fraternities, and sororities.

The rites of passage in hazing can take any form, mostly humiliating, degrading, or physically-challenging tasks such as morbid alcohol consumption, nude marathons, scavenger hunts with illegal tasks, and the most popular method – paddling, or being repetitively hit on the back and thighs with a wooden plank or paddle.

Hazing is about power, control, authority, and machismo. It is about initiators being an unmerciful god and initiates being pushed to emotional and physical limits. It is about ‘humbling’ the recruits to the point of destroying their self-esteem – during the hazing, they are often yelled at or insulted by the members.

Initiates all have to undergo these because having completed it expresses the desire to become a part of the brotherhood. But how can you call someone ‘brother’ when he has hurt you and beaten you till you were weak?

Every year, there are a handful of reports of hazing-related incidents in the Philippines, with at least two fatalities, and yet the violence never seems to stop. It boggles the mind how we never seem to learn from past mistakes.

Last weekend’s heartbreaking news regarding the death of a fellow Bacolodnon, 18-year-old Guillo Cesar Servando, due to a hazing incident is not new or bizarre, but it strikes a chord knowing that it has claimed the life of one of our own.

The victim is no longer an unfortunate stranger whose demise we read on the newspaper. He becomes a person who had hopes and aspirations in life, a promising future, and a family who has loved and raised him.

It is not impossible that the hazing incidents and counts of violence we hear on the news are not the only ones occurring.The opposite is highly likely due to the nature of fraternities being secretive. Revealing the operations of such would mean the expulsion or possibly a punishment much worse.

And while I wish for this particular case to be closed to give closure to the family, I cannot remain quiet knowing that incidents like these will continue to occur in secrecy.

It’s time we take action to stop the violence. The government and the police must make the necessary actions and legislation. The schools need to monitor the organizations and student body closely. Fraternities and sororities should set an example for those who still resort to senseless cruelty.

Stop the tradition of violence. Hazing proves nothing and breeds nothing but animosity, perpetrates sexism and oppression, and violates the dignity of individuals.

Perhaps senior members were subject to the same acts of cruelty and have the need to project it on the new batch of incoming members. The cycle will only continue unless changes are made. Brotherhood should be more than mindless violence. There can be no logical explanation as to how hurting a person beyond their limits can ever foster a healthy relationship between the perpetrator and the victim.

Though I may not have known Guillo, I share in the pain of his family, who my family has known over the years. I pray for them, especially his parents who love him unconditionally and had worked hard to provide for him, and his older sister, a good and longtime friend of my brother. And I pray for Guillo who now has returned to the arms of our Father.

May justice be served.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 04, 2014.

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