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Another Hazing Whistleblower

Today’s D contains another account of hazing, this time from Yesuto Shaw ‘15, a pledge in Alpha Phi Alpha, a fraternity that seems to be composed solely of African-American men. Some excerpts:

Then it got worse. Suddenly, if we didn’t get our facts right, it was no longer only physical exercise for us — they would hit us. At first, the hits were pretty soft in the chest with their fists. Then they took a sturdy, plastic serving spoon, wetted it and smacked us across the chest with it. As if these activities done in the dark weren’t enough, they ordered us to no longer speak to our friends outside of the fraternity. Our only friends would be our pledge brothers. We could talk in class and at our normal activities, but if we saw a friend on the street, we couldn’t so much as wave, or we would face punishments for ourselves, or our pledge brothers, that night.

Yet still, to be honest, I don’t believe that what they did was done with bad intentions. I honestly believe that they were trying somehow to make us stronger and more able to handle struggles in life. But how they did it was wrong. Sure, the welts from the spoon would go away in a day or two, but they never should have been there in the first place…

I didn’t think that I was going to report them originally, as I didn’t want to see their reputations hurt. But after confronting them with my concerns, they chose to ignore them. They assured me that it was “beyond them,” that there was “nothing they could do,” because “that’s the way it’s always been.” I didn’t originally think reporting them was necessary because I was fine. No serious, long-term harm had been done to my pledge brothers or me. But I couldn’t help thinking about the ’16s and the ’17s — the ones who would come after me with high hopes of joining a prestigious organization, only to find themselves degraded and abused. That’s when I decided that I couldn’t keep silent. They had to see that what they were doing was wrong and that it needed to stop. They needed to face consequences so that change might actually come.

I don’t believe for a second that the fraternity that I was joining is the only one ignoring the College’s policies and continuing to haze its pledges.

I wonder how many people will accuse Yesuto of making the whole thing up.

Addendum: A senior member of the faculty writes in:

I read Let the Hazing Begin in The D after reading your blog. It’s one of the best examples of student writing I’ve encountered… ever. I hope I have Yesuto in a class someday.

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