I was watching CSI or one of its spin-offs the other night, and included was a story revolving around initiation ceremonies for a college fraternity (after which one of the students was found hanged in his room).

One of the police officers questioning the president(?) of the fraternity asked him something on the lines of "Are you sure there wasn't any hazing?", bringing the response "Of course not, that's been made illegal in this state". The subsequent few lines implied that if "hazing" was found to have been going on, the fraternity would lose its charter (?) from the university.
So: what's "hazing"?

Andrew Gwilliam
To email me, replace "bottomless pit" with "silverhelm"
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I was watching CSI or one of its spin-offs the other night, and included was a story revolving around initiation ... was found to have been going on, the fraternity would lose its charter (?) from the university. So: what's "hazing"?

Having been in college, and in a fraternity, when hazing was practiced, I could explain it. I shouldn't need to, though, since all you have to do to understand it is to consider how new boys are (were?) treated by upperclassmen at English public schools. Like law, we took it from you. .
I'm sure that "upperclassmen" is not the word that a Brit would use, but I think it's clear in context.
And, yes, a fraternity can lose its charter if fraternity pledges are physically mistreated as a part of hazing. The charter, though, is pulled by the fraternity's national office and not by the university. The university may ban the fraternity, but the charter is given by the national office and not by the university.

Tony Cooper
Orlando FL
I was watching CSI or one of its spin-offs the other night, and included was a story revolving around initiation ceremonies for a college fraternity (after which one of the students was found hanged in his room).
One of the police officers questioning the president(?) of the fraternity asked him something on the lines of "Are you sure there wasn't any hazing?", bringing the response "Of course not, that's been made illegal in this state". The subsequent few lines implied that if "hazing" was found to have been going on, the fraternity would lose its charter (?) from the university.
So: what's "hazing"?
In a fraternity, hazing is humiliation suffered during an initiation period by the initiates. It can be mild, such as being forced to wear propeller hats or itchy clothes; or harsh, such as being forced to eat bugs, too much alcohol, left naked 20 miles from campus, and things better left unmentioned.
Richard Maurer To reply, remove half
Sunnyvale, California of a homonym of a synonym for also.
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I was watching CSI or one of its spin-offs the other night, and included was a story revolving around initiation ... as being forced to eat bugs, too much alcohol, left naked 20 miles from campus, and things better left unmentioned.

Hm, quite a range of activities! Although the students in the programme denied that "hazing" had been going on, they seemed prepared to admit to various tasks having been set for initiates.
I'm at a loss though how it would be possible to legislate against; presumably whatever state was involved had a blanket prohibition on entry requirements being anything other than filling in a form or something. I'm also puzzled why legislation would be necessary, since presumably the university/college would have rules of conduct that it could enforce.

Andrew Gwilliam
To email me, replace "bottomless pit" with "silverhelm"
I was watching CSI or one of its spin-offs the ... lose its charter (?) from the university. So: what's "hazing"?

Having been in college, and in a fraternity, when hazing was practiced, I could explain it. I shouldn't need to, ... how new boys are (were?) treated by upperclassmen at English public schools. Like law, we took it from you. .

Frankly, I've got no real notion of what would happen at an public school (whether current or historic). The stereotype would include harsh physical treatment (not to mention buggery), but I wouldn't know about the real world.
I'm sure that "upperclassmen" is not the word that a Brit would use, but I think it's clear in context.

You're right, no such term exists. In fact I've just realised that you're referring to boys from senior years, rather than boys from an upper class background. So maybe that term existed at more old-fashioned types of school.
And, yes, a fraternity can lose its charter if fraternity pledges are physically mistreated as a part of hazing. The ... The university may ban the fraternity, but the charter is given by the national office and not by the university.

My question mark was actually against my use of the word charter, but I can see now that it was ambiguous (or even misleading). Still, it meant you explained something I hadn't thought to ask about!

A flurry of follow-up questions:
Is there just one national organisation?
If you were at X University, would you have a choice of fraternities to join?
Are they run just by students?
Apart from brief glimpses of fraternities that us outsiders get to see on TV/in films, what do they actually do? Are they just social organisations? Something to prove that you're cool or smart? Do they provide facilities?

I was going to ask if they ran bars, but then I remembered the ridiculous drink laws in the States, so I guess if they ran bars they'd be illegal ones.

Andrew Gwilliam
To email me, replace "bottomless pit" with "silverhelm"
. . . A flurry of follow-up questions: Is there just one national organisation? If you were at X University, ... I remembered the ridiculous drink laws in the States, so I guess if they ran bars they'd be illegal ones.

I was never in one, but I think each fraternity or sorority is conceived of as a national organization with its own national office. There can also be local organizations at schools that don't tolerate the national ones.
Yes, if you were at X University you might have a choice of fraternities to join, but only I think by invitation.

Yes, they're social organizations, with names made of typically three Greek capital letters and pronounced as the letter names,. and they're something to prove that you're cool or smart (if by "smart" you mean "cool") or athletic, and despite the drinking laws they're seen as involving drinking, but you're right that they don't run bars as such. They may have their own residence halls, though. And they do charitable projects.

An overview is available in the 1978 comedy hit movie "Animal House." ("It was the Deltas against the rules...the rules lost!")
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So: what's "hazing"? In a fraternity, hazing is humiliation suffered during an initiation

The term is not used here, although one has heard it through watching US TV programmes. I understood that it included, but was not limited to, humiliation. Other components include useful stuff, like finding out where key campus buildings are, and being able to recognise names and faces of key people, and so forth. Or does "hazing" not include this?
period by the initiates. It can be mild, such as ... naked 20 miles from campus, and things better left unmentioned.

I don't agree they should be left unmentioned, on the grounds that the more people know about them, the more they can have an informed response to them: they include such imaginative items as holding inductees' heads under water until they require resuscitation by a medical student, and "anal chugging".

"Anal chugging" is on-topic here because it seems to mean different things to different people. In the US context of fraternity inductions, it appears to mean introducing booze directly into the small intestine, per anus et per rectum, using pipes and funnels, to take advantage of the small intestine's great absorptivity. This might surprise even an experienced drinker, which term certainly does not cover all freshmen. As it is, last I heard was that "anal chugging" leads to three or four deaths per year across the US as the first semester gets under way.
In Britain, however, "anal chugging" appears to mean drinking beer by lying on one's back with one's mouth open and catching beer as it falls from a naked man's genitalia. The "anal" connection is that the beer is poured onto the man's back and flows between his buttocks on the way down.

There are other meanings, I understand, but I cannot call them to mind. Perhaps this is the place to find out.
I was watching CSI or one of its spin-offs the ... lose its charter (?) from the university. So: what's "hazing"?

Having been in college, and in a fraternity, when hazing was practiced, I could explain it. I shouldn't need to, ... how new boys are (were?) treated by upperclassmen at English public schools. Like law, we took it from you. .

You may also have got the word from us. Partridge gives "haze" as a nautical colloquialism for "to harrass or punish with overwork or paltry orders; constantly find fault with." The dated ref is Dana 1840 (who was American) but there's also a ref to an earlier dialect use for "ill treat, frighten". Both COD and MW suggest possible origin in old French "haser" - to irritate, annoy, tease, insult.
Phil C.
I was watching CSI or one of its spin-offs the ... naked 20 miles from campus, and things better left unmentioned.

Hm, quite a range of activities! Although the students in theprogramme denied that "hazing" had been going on, they seemed ... also puzzled why legislation would be necessary, since presumably the university/college would have rules of conduct that it could enforce.

The most a university could do to any particular student found to have been a perpetrator of hazing would be to expell him. The government could fine him and put him in jail (and could also, at least in the case of state university, require that he be expelled).

MASH Inc., "Mothers Against School Hazing," has on its Web site an essay "Anti-Hazing Laws" by Leigh Ann Drevs which examines the laws that have been passed by a number of US states against hazing.

See
http://www.mashinc.org/resources-essay-drevs.html

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
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