Hazing – An Inhumane Practice That Should Be Stopped

Just recently, Philippine Military Academy Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio died a month after he was beaten and humiliated by his upperclassmen as part of his initiation rites which was a traditional ritual passage at the academy. As different news articles covered this issue, it turned out that Dormitorio was the latest victim of hazing in the Philippines. But how did hazing started? Although most of us probably became aware of this issue through current news, hazing has a deep history rooted since the Greek times. Back then, hazing was not the term used to describe the activity; it was called “pennalism”. Hazing could be traced back to Plato where he criticized pennalism by saying “practical jokes played by unruly young men that injured the hazed and citizens who got in the way.” With this statement, hazing was passed through time, and numerous people were injured, and worst, faced death. 

“Hazing includes the following willful acts, with or without the consent of the individual involved: physical injury; assault or battery; kidnapping or imprisonment; physical activity that knowingly or recklessly subjects a person or persons to an unreasonable risk of physical harm or to severe mental or emotional harm; degradation, humiliation, or compromising of moral or religious values; forced consumption of any substance; placing an individual in physical danger, which includes abandonment; and undue interference with academic endeavors.”

Furthermore, Klinger, G. mentioned that this practice was put in place to get prospective students recognize their social status as something lower than the upperclassmen. It was said to build inferiority towards their uppers. However, activities done during hazing went more brutal and unjustifiable. The worst-case scenario one could ever experience was death. In the Philippines, Upsilon Sigma Phi, founded in 1918, was the oldest Filipino fraternity, and is exclusive to UP Diliman and UP Los Banos students. Moreover, the first record of death, according to ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, occurred during hazing was also from the Upsilon Sigma Phi in the year 1954 where a student was beaten to death by the fraternity members. Further, following his death, 30 more people were recorded and found dead prior their ritual passages.

Previously, there also was an approved legislative law which regulates the act of hazing and any harmful and brutal activities during any initiation rites. Republic Act No. 8049, or the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995, “is an act regulating hazing and other forms of initiation rites in fraternities, sororities, and other organizations and providing penalties therefor”; however, failed to monitor all activities done by fraternities, sororities, and other organizations in the Philippines which resulted to more deaths of students from hazing. As hazing was highly prohibited by universities, organizations can’t seem to break and stop the ritual passages to be held. Not long ago, our current and acting president, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, signed the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018, or the Republic Act No. 11053, which bans all forms of hazing. Furthermore, it was specifically stated in Section 3 – Prohibiting hazing, “In no case shall hazing be made a requirement for employment in any business or corporations”. This only means that prohibiting hazing does not only apply and is not limited to university organizations. The current issue is an eye-opener for people to become more aware and informed that hazing is detrimental and is a very serious issue that concerns one’s human rights. 

As this topic carefully tackles the human right, I believe that hazing, in any form or manner, must be prohibited, banned, and stopped for it is a person’s right to have a life, liberty, and security. Joining a group of individuals, or fraternities and sororities as we may call it, highly deems and values social status where the newbies of the group shall follow almost everything their upperclassmen tell them to do. Hence, it violates Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security”, which I have mentioned in the previous paragraph. Meaning, if they join that particular group they wish to, their liberty, their freedom will be limited; they must follow even if they are forced to do something against their will, and whether or not they could be in the position that will put them in shame, harm, diminish or degrade their selves as a person.

Everyone has the right to life and lead their own life according to their will and desires. However, from the definition of hazing posted by the University of Michigan, specifically the phrase “with or without consent of the individual involved”, I believe that a person could not really give their consent to hazing for it is legally banned. Therefore, every individual hazed lose their right to govern their own lives for the members involved in hazing forcefully initiated the action. No one has the right to let someone feel that they are superior against others, wherein they could set some standards for the new recruits to adhere to for them to fit in. Further, “hazing is about power and control.” I find this claim true and I agree on the point said for it was also mentioned that fraternities and sororities highly regard on social status. If they want to teach the new recruits their place in the group, hazing would be the option of the group. If I were to view it on Formulation of Kantian Categorical Imperative, it would most likely be assessed under the third formulation which is the Formula of the End in Itself. I thought of using the third formulation for, perhaps, the reason why fraternities and sororities look for new members annually was just a mere means of satisfying their greed and obsession over hierarchical power and status. In that sense, the prospective members were totally not considered as someone equal to the existing members of the group who will share the same status within the group. 

Hazing, as some of us might know, is just a continuous cycle where the newly recruited members before who was hazed, becomes the hazer of another prospective members. But why don’t they just stop the dangerous culture they have, and hopefully conduct a better one where one would not suffer and be traumatized? Doesn’t it promote human rights better? Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” If we are to view the proposed action to stop the initiation rites, specifically hazing, in the eudaimonistic perspective, there would be no violation of human rights, particularly on Article 1. In fact, Gallagher, C. pointed out that the whole point of joining a fraternity, sorority or whatever organization it may be, was supposed to be about a group going through adversity to learn and work as a team. And since all the members pledged their full support on each other, one’s main source of strength and courage would also be from the group. However, with hazing on the table, human flourishing wouldn’t be attained for only suffering would be gained by the people hazed. Moreover, Gallagher does not perceive hazing as an activity that teaches a person to be a better member of the society at large. Thus, I share the same side as Gallagher for I don’t find hazing a right approach on promoting human flourishing for it is evident that hazing gives more suffering and does not encourage people to achieve its full potential as human. 

Let me incorporate act utilitarianism on the topic. In our ethics class discussion, act utilitarianism defined that an act is right if and only if it results in as much as good as any available alternatives. With this definition in mind, would hazing be a rightful act or initiation rite for joining a fraternity or sorority? I would personally say no. Hazing does not justify one’s worth for the members of the group to judge one’s qualification whether a person is to be chosen. Anything that would put someone in danger isn’t a rightful act. Moreover, there has been a study showing that 71% of those who are hazed have suffered from negative consequences of hazing. Therefore, if we apply the principle of utility, it obviously does not augment any pleasure on the person. The consequence evident in hazing is the damage it brings to a person and nothing else. 

University organizations, specifically the fraternities and sororities, must be an asylum for students looking for support, help, fellowship and alliance. In some organizations and groups, they help and accept students to be part of them without any dangerous activities to be executed before they join the group. Moreover, some organizations teach students social skills, networking and contribute to college life.[footnoteRef:9] These are primarily the reasons on why students seek membership approval to some fraternities and sororities. It offers them a whole new view and build strong relationship in which they could bring throughout their lives. In addition, the commitment of these organizations does not strictly require the members’ full time and focus, which actually promotes the betterment of an individual allowing them to grow holistically. I believe that university organizations should continue to be an asylum or refuge, particularly for students seeking for support group in case they couldn’t handle the difficulties and challenges they would be facing during their stay in college. 

However, it is far way different from those groups whose unspoken history and culture is to host hazing during the recruiting stage. As mentioned earlier, 71% of those who are hazed suffer from negative consequences. Wondering what these are? A lot suffer from physical, emotional, and/or mental instability, loss of sense of control and empowerment, post-traumatic stress syndrome, erosion of trust within the group members, illness and more. In addition, the practice that made hazing even more horrifying was when alcohol entered the situation. In fact, alcohol poisoning brought by binge drinking was responsible for the deaths of college students on the average. Being drunk, as they mentioned, gives them the courage to do anything during the actual hazing, which in return makes it easier for the group to haze the prospective members. Hence, the manner of hazing nowadays does not only limit to physical injuries caused by whipping, beating, humiliation; alcohol intoxication is now part of the dangers inflicted by hazing. It is apparent that it damages the person on every aspect of his or her life. In the lens of Jeremy Bentham’s quantitative utilitarianism where the hedonic calculus will be used to determine whether it gives more pleasure or pain, the damage that it would bring to a person is certain. Further, although some would get over with it quickly, there would be that someone who will be affected and traumatized throughout his or her life which falls under the duration of the pain. This is the main problem of hazing. Hazers say, the whole point of hazing is for the membership to be worth it or to have a sense of accomplishment, to increase the commitment of every member to justify the purpose of hazing since the members had to overcome tough challenges. But as I have perceived the initiation activity, I find their claims absurd. Hazing does not justify one’s accomplishment. How does enduring a beating and whipping, overcoming intoxication, and putting of a confident face after a shameful activity be an accomplishment? All I could ever think of is that these statements are only to sugarcoat the oppressive actions done towards the recruits. I definitely do not share the same view with the hazers for hazing motivates nothing, it does not foster good relationship, trust and respect; if it does anything, it hinders one’s growth, one’s aspirations, and more importantly, one’s future. Hazing is one traumatic event that could destroy everything in just a one-time act. 

In conclusion, I am one of those numerous individuals who are against hazing, who believe that our country’s President did the right thing on banning all forms and means of hazing completely. Hazing, as I’ve said, does nothing to improve one’s life. Further, everyone in this world has the right to have a life, unaccompanied or in an organization, where they could exist freely, happily, and contented. Definitely, no one has the right to torture someone, put them in shame, and cruelly force someone to do something. Such actions and activities are inhumane. I would like to end this paper by saying that I am against hazing, leaving this quotation by Jennifer Ritchie Payette, “Anything that looks, feels or acts like hazing, bullying and coercion is despicable and treacherous and should be avoided at all costs. Walk away immediately and sever all ties with anyone behaving like that. Affiliate instead with positive, success driven individuals” and I support StopHazing’s campaign, as well as Cornell’s University’s hazing prevention campaign, “Rethink. React. Regroup”, for it takes one brave step to stop hazing and feel empowered by valuing our own standards, our own choices, and ourselves. 


  • ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group. “Deaths Caused by Hazing.” ABS-CBN, October 3, 2017. https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/multimedia/infographic/09/27/17/deaths-caused-by-hazing.
  • Babson College. “Consequences of Hazing.” Babson College. Accessed November 30, 2019. https://www.babson.edu/student-life/community-standards/hazing-prevention-initiative/consequences-of-hazing/.
  • Klinger, Gavin. “Hazing: Its Beginning and Evolution Throughout History.” Medium, Medium, 9 Mar. 2017, medium.com/@gavinklinger57/hazing-its-beginning-and-evolution-throughout-history-fee3cd68ca06.
  • Gallagher, Chuck. “Michael Deng: Death from Hazing - Fraternity Ethics.” Chuck Gallagher, September 20, 2015. https://www.chuckgallagher.com/2015/09/20/michael-deng-death-from-hazing-fraternity-ethics/.
  • Ranada, Pia. “After Signing Anti-Hazing Law, Duterte Now Says Hazing Can't Be Eliminated.” Rappler. Accessed November 30, 2019. https://www.rappler.com/nation/241538-duterte-now-says-hazing-cannot-be-eliminated.
  • University of Michigan. “Dean of Students.” What is Hazing? | Dean of Students. University of Michigan. Accessed November 30, 2019. https://deanofstudents.umich.edu/article/what-hazing.
16 December 2021
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