Over the last decade, as more Asian-Americans have filled college classes nationwide, new fraternities and sororities have sprung up on universities from coast to coast. Not surprisingly, those organizations have experienced some serious legal difficulties, mostly tied to injury or death stemming from “initiation” rites. Here are some examples:
Though most fraternities insist that participating in hazing/initiation rites is entirely voluntary, attorneys for victims say that, as a practical matter, pledges will nearly always participate, even if they know the risks, because they fear they will be rejected or ostracized if they fail to do so.
A study by Dr. Minh Tran, of the UCLA School of Dentistry, found a pattern where some Asian-American fraternity members used hazing as an outlet for what he called ” a hyper-masculinity.” He found that, within certain organizations, hazing continued to escalate from year to year, as new members sought to “outdo” the initiation rites of the past. He noted that it typically led to a decreased reputation, lower quality recruits, and a greater propensity to even more egregious behavior. He recommended greater oversight by both national fraternity offices and local universities.
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