Dangers of Hazing: As delivered by Mindy Sopher

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Alison Brodie
abrodie@radford.edu

They left them with nothing but a dime and a banana each. What started out as a harmless initiation for some freshman pledges, turned to tragedy when four died in a tragic accident after their fraternity brothers dropped them off on the side of the road, miles from campus. Mindy Sopher’s Sunday school teacher was one of the unfortunate individuals who did not survive the prank. Her association with this story and many others, drove her to dedicate her life to helping students become aware of the terror of hazing.  Sopher used this tragic story in her discussion about “Getting to the Heart of Hazing” that was held in Preston Hall Wednesday night, 8 p.m. she grabbed the attention of seated sorority and fraternity members as she began to discuss how to prevent hazing that may or may not be going on at Radford University.

Mindy Sopher is a facilitator for CAMPUSPEAK, and goes to many schools to discuss hazing with fraternities and sororities. She used to be a full-time fraternity and sorority Advisor, has earned many awards for her involvement in the Greek System, and even has awards named after her. To add to her lifetime of achievements, she is also a four-time survivor of cancer and is also involved with her local foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina, “Race for the Cure.”

Sopher has already been to Radford three or four times to work on a “recruitment boot camp” in which she has tried to convince students that hazing does exist. Sopher continued to explain that most students state that there is not a hazing problem because they believe  that as long as no one is dying, there is no big issue.

Does hazing exist at Radford University? Sorority members and fraternity members had different views on the subject. Wishing to remain anonymous, one sorority member said yes; she has heard about organizations dealing in alcohol-related hazing, but there is no hazing being done “to the extent of worrying about someone’s life.”

Another sorority group also claimed they have heard and have actually seen types of hazing, but did not specify what they were. Even though some fraternities and sororities know that any form of hazing is wrong, some of the people in the audience believe that the Greek organizations will continue hazing because it is tradition.

Another Greek life member who wished to be anonymous answered, “No. There is no problem.” However, he and a few of his brothers claimed that sports teams should learn about hazing as well.      “Hazing is hazing,” said Sopher. It does not need to be life-threatening to be considered hazing. Hazing is anything that “embarrasses, humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers” a student in order for the upperclassmen to gain dominance.

Surveys were filled out before the presentation on extremely personal matters. The surveys were passed back to audience members randomly, so they could represent the answers for another person anonymously. Students were asked to stand if the person had witnessed hazing, but did nothing to stop it; about thirty students rose from their seats. Then, when asked if the student believed he or she had the power to stop it, twice as many rose from their seats.

The lights dimmed. Mindy Sopher lit a candle for all of the souls, dead or alive, that dealt with hazing. “It’s not about hurting people,” she explained, “it’s about lifting them up.”