Every August, groups of parents prepare to take their daughters to college with hopes for their success, prayers for their safety, and fears for their well-being. In most cases, their fears are unfounded and the proud parents see their daughters flourish in college.
But what happens when those fears are justified and their daughter finds herself the victim of sorority hazing? Once on campus, young women often find themselves looking for acceptance from pledge sisters who identify themselves by a combination of Greek letters, wear various color combinations, and are bonded by sisterhood, scholarship, and community service. In other words: sororities.
The membership requirements of each sorority vary and are available to the public on the organizations’ websites. Unfortunately, far too often, there are some requirements and activities required of pledges in their quest to become a new member that are not authorized by the national organizations, local chapters, colleges, or universities. These unofficial requirements and acts may be considered a form of hazing.
According to the National Study of Student Hazing, over half, 55%, of students involved in clubs, sports teams, and other organizations participate in hazing incidents at some point in their college careers.
They also determined that 25% of organization advisors or coaches were aware of the groups’ hazing activities. A quarter of the hazing events took place on-campus in a public space and alumni were present at a quarter of the hazing activities.
Hazing is Not Talked About Enough
Sadly, the study also found that less than half of the hazing victims talked with peers and even fewer (26%) talked to family members about their experiences. Almost all (95%) of the hazing cases went unreported to campus officials even when students realized they had been hazed. And perhaps most alarmingly, 90% of college students who have experienced hazing do not consider themselves to have been a part of actual hazing.
Forms of Sorority Hazing
HazingPrevention.org notes that hazing behaviors at a pledge event can include:
- alcohol consumption,
- sleep-deprivation, and sex acts.
They further note that it is widespread practice to post pictures of the pledge class from the hazing event on a public web space, further adding to the humiliations of the sorority hazing victims.
Other Types of Hazing
Other types of hazing practices on potential new members may include physical abuse, forced eating, animal abuse, nudity, kidnapping, or other illegal activities. Whether your daughter has experienced any acts previously listed or has been forced to participate in something not listed, it can still be considered hazing.
Hazing Defined Under Illinois Law
In Illinois hazing is clearly defined as: (a)A person commits hazing when she knowingly requires the performance of any act by a student or other person in a school, college, university, or other educational institution of this State, for purpose of induction or admission into any group, organization, or society associated or connected with that institution, if: (1)the act is not sanctioned or authorized by that educational institution; and (2)the act results in bodily harm to any person. (720 ILCS 5/12C-50)
Signs Your Daughter May be a Victim of Sorority Hazing
Unfortunately, there are all too many horror stories in the news about hazing rituals and hazing deaths on college campuses. Identifying whether your daughter is the victim of hazing may not be that easy to determine, especially if your daughter does not feel comfortable talking about the issue.
Signs of hazing can look like the following:
- Sudden change in behavior or attitude after joining the organization;
- Sudden decrease in communication with friends and family;
- Physical and psychological exhaustion;
- Unexplained weight loss;
- Unexplained injuries or illness;
- Change in sleeping or eating habits;
- Withdrawal from normal activities;
- Increase in secrecy and unwillingness to share details.
If you notice any of the above signs in your daughter, you should report your concerns to an official with the organization and your daughter’s school.
Long-Term Impacts of Sorority Hazing
There are many long-term impacts that stem from sorority members hazing other girls. Some of these effects are physical, while others are psychological. The following list is not all-inclusive, but it does highlight some of the more commonly seen effects on the women involved:
- Eating disorders;
- Substance abuse; and
- Sleep disorders.
These long-term effects of sorority hazing by members of Greek organizations can have a significant and negative impact on your daughter’s life. If you believe that your daughter is suffering from any of the effects listed above, you should seek professional help for her as soon as possible.
What to Do If You Suspect Your Daughter is a Hazing Victim
If you believe your daughter is being hazed, the first thing to do is to talk to her and encourage her to report what happened. No matter the situation, these acts are not required of the pledge class to become a member in any sorority in the United States.
Other Steps You Can Take
If your daughter is not comfortable talking to you, there are other steps you can take. You can contact the school’s Greek life office or the national headquarters of the sorority your daughter is pledged to. You should also contact law enforcement if you believe a crime has been committed.
An Experienced Lawyer Can Help
If your daughter has suffered a serious injury in a hazing ritual, first make sure she gets medical attention. Then, call an experienced hazing lawyer to discuss your legal options. The Kryder Law Group, LLC has represented many seriously injured victims and can help you hold those responsible accountable.
Call us today for a free consultation.
How to Report Acts of Hazing
It is important to talk to your daughter before, during, and after the pledging period, and use your parental instinct to determine whether your daughter is being hazed. Even if they later turn out to be unfounded, it is better to report your suspicions to individuals who can assist your daughter. If it is, in fact, hazing, you can get her the help she needs before it goes too far.
Notify any of the following individuals of any suspicion or actual knowledge of hazing:
- Greek Life Adviser in the Greek system of the University and/or College;
- Organization’s Chapter President;
- Organization’s Chapter Advisers;
- National Executive Board of the Organization;
- Dean of Student Life at the University and College;
- President of the University and/or College
Legal Consequences of Hazing in Illinois
Illinois provides criminal and civil remedies for hazing. In Illinois, an individual may be criminally charged with hazing if the hazing results in great bodily harm or death. The sentence may vary from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony. (720 ILCS 5/12C-50)
Illinois also provides a civil remedy for those affected by hazing and those who perpetuate the hazing culture. In order to bring a civil lawsuit against an individual, organization, or university for your daughter’s hazing:
- First, it must be established that duty of care was owed to your daughter by the students, organization, and college/university;
- Second, the duty owed to your daughter was breached; and
- Third, the breach directly caused harm to your daughter
The Kyrder Law Group, LLC is Here to Help
If your daughter has been seriously injured or killed as a result of hazing, you should contact an experienced lawyer to discuss your legal options. The Kryder Law Group, LLC has represented many families in these types of situations and can help you get the justice your daughter deserves. Call us today for a free consultation.