Some experts have said hazing has become part of the cultural fabric of black colleges. What is not clear is why it has had to turn violent. Following the death of Mr. Robert Champion, the FAMU drum major, cases of just such types of action have been surfacing and resurfacing to a degree that astonishes even the casual observer. Students have suffered broken limbs, including the latest incident in which three FAMU students have been arrested for alleged hazing that injured a female student. Some had to be hospitalized.
If the schools have been reluctant to shut down this aspect of the college experience, at least they should have taken seriously the various reports of the harm it has been doing to some students. It remains a major shortcoming of such schools that they have not dealt with it in a manner that would have put an end to at least the most egregious types of behavior. The fact that some students have gotten away with it has evidently only given encouragement for it to continue and for the violence to escalate.
Hazing does not have to involve violence against another person and no aspect of the college experience should ever depend on a student’s willingness to subject himself or herself to being brutally beaten as a way of proving worthiness. The bonding among students that lasts a lifetime cannot be premised on that assumption.
The time has come for all leaders of historically black colleges and universities to convene a summit with the sole purpose of putting a laser-sharp focus on this practice and coming up with a uniform code of behavior that would tolerate no infraction and would expel students who engage in hazing.
Nothing less is acceptable.