Editorial: Stop hazing-A A +A
Sunday, June 10, 2012
AS MANY private colleges and universities start a new school year today, the usual jitters will affect students and their families.
For many freshmen, acceptance by peers will compete with anxiety over scholastic performance as the benchmark of success in this new phase.
Many youths will be vulnerable enough to consider joining a fraternity or sorority for a variety of reasons: gain friends, make connections, ease their transition through college.
Yet, this need to belong has led some to submit to hazing rites. It’s a decision that exacted from many students and their families a steep cost: the loss of life, the end of dreams.
Under the radar
The prominence of several deaths caused by hazing has intertwined fraternities and this particular form of initiation with negative associations.
Yet, the tragedy is that, despite the notoriety and the unheeded calls for justice to hazing victims, many young people still voluntarily join groups that resort to secrecy and physical violence to test an applicant’s loyalty, obedience and suitability as future member.
According to Republic Act (RA) 8049, also known as “An Act Regulating Hazing and Other Forms of Initiation Rites in Fraternities, Sororities, and Other Organizations,” no organization shall initiate members without securing a written permission from school authorities and making a commitment not to use physical force in the induction.
For this reason, RA 8049 outlaws hazing, which is defined as “an initiation rite or practice (that is) a prerequisite for admission into membership in a fraternity, sorority or organization (and which places) the recruit, neophyte or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situations such as forcing him to do menial, silly, foolish and other similar tasks or activities or otherwise subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury.”
Explicit to the letter, the law is still inutile in implementation.
Last February, a first-year San Beda College of Law student died from hazing injuries.
The death of Marvin Reglos, a member of the Lambda Rho Beta fraternity, stirred again a call for better regulation of fraternities and enforcement of the Anti-Hazing Law.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino noted that “since the passage of RA 8049 in 1991, incited by the death of Leni Villa, then a student of the Ateneo de Manila School of Law, not one conviction was fulfilled under the said law.” This is according to a March 1, 2012 report by Sun.Star Network Exchange (Sunnex).
Palatino has sought a review of the Anti-Hazing Law, also reported Sunnex.
While school authorities have a system requiring all course-based and other student organizations to register for accreditation, there must be another net to detect organizations that purposely avoid registration due to the nature of its objectives or activities.
Officials of student services or affairs must coordinate with students and parents to break the influence of these groups, whose goals and processes do not promote student or community welfare.
Though covert, these groups and their members are often involved in incidents of drug use, riots, bullying, cyber hate campaigns and other violations.
Student councils and other student leaders can conduct advocacy campaigns to educate freshmen about student participation in accredited organizations.
Teachers are directly in contact with students regularly. They should be concerned about their students’ welfare beyond academic performance.
After detecting any aberration in behavior or appearance, teachers should alert guidance or student services officials, and through these channels, the parents, so steps may be taken to help the affected youths.
In 2010, Quezon City Vice Mayor Herbert Bautista alerted parents and school officials to the existence of high school fraternities or groups that forced students to join as members. Once inducted, the students were drawn into illegal acts, which led to arrest and expulsion from the school.
Bautista said that even students who were initially not interested became members to enjoy protection from intimidation and harassment.
Many hazing victims studied in schools run by religious institutions. The threat to students and the community is also complicated by the practice of frats to recruit community-based members or out-of-school youths who are beyond the regulation of school authorities. Outbreaks of violence between rival gangs have drawn police intervention.
In this context, choosing one’s friends has become a community concern.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 11, 2012.