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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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June 16, 2024

Opinion: Aggies must halt hazing

Following+the+%241+million+dollar+lawsuit+facing%26%23160%3BSigma+Alpha+Epsilon%2C+assistant+opinion+editor%26%23160%3BCaleb+Powell+pushes+for+further+Greek+Life+supervision+to+prevent+hazing.%26%23160%3B
Photo by Graphic by Haylea Keith

Following the $1 million dollar lawsuit facing Sigma Alpha Epsilon, assistant opinion editor Caleb Powell pushes for further Greek Life supervision to prevent hazing. 

When most people think of hazing, their initial thoughts drift toward the comical initiations of Animal House. Unfortunately, reality is often disappointing and downright terrifying.
Anyone with more than two brain cells would use an industrial-grade cleaner to wash factory floors or heavy machinery. Texas A&M’s Texas Tau chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, or SAE, had the bright idea to pour it on two of its pledges in March of 2021.
Because the cleaner can cause chemical burns and eye damage, two of those students were permanently disfigured. So, on Oct. 18, they filed a $1 million lawsuit against SAE. In response to the complaint, A&M suspended the fraternity for two years, and the organization will be on probation for another two afterward. While the university has taken punitive action, it unfortunately will not deter hazing for future generations of Aggies.
SAE’s suspension means it is no longer affiliated with A&M and can’t take advantage of university resources or participate in any events. The subsequent probation will mean — while its status as a recognized organization is restored — it can only host a limited number of events.
Sure, this punishment will ensure when SAE comes off probation, it will consist of a whole new roster of Aggies. However, A&M has issued similar consequences for fraternities accused of hazing in the past, none of which deterred abuse in student organizations throughout Aggieland.
For example, the Phi Delta Gamma, or FIJI, fraternity was found guilty of hazing in 2018 after freshman Joseph Little died from a seizure induced by snorting Adderall. The organization was suspended for four years, and this incident occurred not even a year after a frighteningly similar death in the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.
Even after two students died as the result of hazing, multiple organizations continue to perpetuate a seemingly infinite cycle of physical, mental and emotional torture. According to A&M’s Student Activities website, five Greek life organizations have been convicted of hazing since Little passed away.
SAE is just the most recent in a long line of organizations busted for mistreating its members. Perhaps legal and financial repercussions will give potential abusers pause in the future. Perhaps A&M will amend its anti-hazing policies to be more stringent. Perhaps permanent scars will emphasize the consequences of hazing. However, none of these consequences will deter future harm unless the Aggie community decides to make a significant cultural change.
It’s clear, with highly visible organizations like the Singing Cadets, Aggie Wranglers and Fish Camp also being responsible, that hazing is sadly a normal occurrence in Aggieland. Many may consider the strenuous exercise, excessive alcohol consumption and humiliation as tradition.
Now, it’s important to understand many A&M traditions, like Silver Taps, Muster and Bonfire Remembrance, are integral parts of the university. However, the rites of passage found in many student organizations are not. Pouring eggs, spit and other foreign substances on pledges don’t define Aggies for one simple reason: these actions do not align with the university’s six Core Values.
Just because an organization has hazed students for years on end does not justify hazing in the present day. The idea of humiliating new members is fundamentally at odds with A&M’s Core Values of Respect, Excellence and Leadership. Setting such poor examples for incoming students all but ensures a new generation of misguided leaders.
Unfortunately, there is no policy A&M’s administration can implement to stop hazing if Aggies can’t learn how to say no. While it may be cathartic to inflict the suffering one experienced onto pledges, it is a true statement of Integrity to take the moral high ground. If hazing is to stop and lives are to be saved, Aggies must be better about living out their Core Values.

Caleb Powell is a biomedical engineering junior and the assistant opinion editor for The Battalion.

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