There was a news story this week about ‘hazing’ activities that took place recently at Ryerson University. Hazing rituals have long been a concern of mine and I am always happy when I hear that these rituals have been banned or are closely monitored.
When our oldest daughter went to Queen’s University last fall I was extremely relieved to hear her talk about the few harmless things that she and the other first year students had to do. I remember seeing pictures of the kids wearing overalls covered in paint. I believe there is a special hat they wear with a pompom on it and some rules to follow. I’m sure I’m missing a few things, but it was an enjoyable, fun experience for all the kids in her faculty.
I have heard stories about the crazy things that the engineering students have to do, but that’s not our daughter’s program so I didn’t pay very close attention.
Well, reading the stories about what just happened at Ryerson brings everything to the forefront again.
If you watch the video of what the kids had to do, you might not see a problem with it. So they had to crawl along the ground in their underwear. Is that really so bad? I’m sure they were cold and wet and may have gotten a few bruises, but it’s all in good fun.
Well, once you make it clear that the students crawling on the ground are in a subordinate role and the ones standing above them are in a dominant role everything changes. The students were screamed at and one seemed to be spanked. What about everyone’s dignity? How many of those students secretly felt humiliated? Yes, it was a voluntary activity. But we all know what role peer pressure plays in influencing people’s choices.
I don’t think this activity was horrible as other rituals have been in the past and I don’t think anyone was physically hurt. I know that there was a time when much worse events took place. However, is this really an acceptable practice? Do we really need to ask students to take part in something like this and have a line drawn between those who are ‘brave’ enough to participate and those who choose not to?