Deaths caused by fraternity initiation rites still happen in the Philippines despite the presence of laws that prohibit physical violence and hazing.
Is there really a need to use violence on a man who wants to join a fraternity, a “formal and structured” organization (SunStar Cebu’s 2014 editorial) that espouses brotherhood?
The SunStar Cebu editorial commenting on an issue related to fraternities aptly states that “violence is wielded consistently to enforce a frat’s code of brotherhood. The violence is first experienced during ‘hazing,’ the initiation to break down the will and identity of neophytes until they deserve to be called ‘brothers.’ Violence is also wielded as a weapon against individuals or other groups during frat ‘rumbles’ to stake dominion or extract vengeance.”
New York’s Alfred University defines hazing as “any activity expected of someone joining a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses or endangers, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate. This does not include activities such as rookies carrying the balls, team parties with community games, or going out with your teammates, unless an atmosphere of humiliation, degradation, abuse or danger arises.”
Psychologists say that hazing is bullying for the purpose of bonding, borne of a need to exert power and to subject someone to the same embarrassments that they once suffered, Canada’s CTV News reported.
Experts say the idea is that by enduring the same challenges, the new member will feel a greater sense of camaraderie and loyalty to the group. Another possible reason is the perpetuation of tradition.
Some fraternities may not employ hazing anymore as part of their initiation rites; however, the reported hazing-related deaths of Adamson University student John Matthew Salilig and University of Cebu student Ronnel Masamoc Baguio, both wanting to join Tau Gamma Phi, clearly indicate that violent initiation rites still exist.
Joining a fraternity is not a crime per se because it is part of human social life to join groups. However, violent initiation rites are illegal in many places and can lead to serious physical and emotional harm, and even death.
It is the responsibility of the fraternity, its members and the university to ensure that all initiation rituals are safe, respectful and non-violent.