Staff Editorial: Hazing is an issue beyond NT


NT News File Photo

Cultures of hazing are passed down by previous generations; organizations on campuses across the nation and at New Trier struggle to address it

A few weeks ago, the New Trier boys lacrosse team’s season was put on probation due to allegations of hazing. A video resurfaced from a lacrosse party, in which one of the sophomores on the team was beaten with a wiffle bat and had beer poured on him. Currently, the team has been suspended, cannot participate in out-of-state games, and has to go through anti-hazing training.

This problem does not start or end with the New Trier boys lacrosse team. Between 2019 and 2021, there were 23 collegiate hazing deaths. While the players involved are certainly responsible for their actions, there are many others who play a role in the hazing.

First, the already graduated lacrosse players that were on the team overlapping with the current seniors have a role to play. Athletic hazing is almost always a tradition passed down from older generations of members of a club to its newest inductees. When seniors graduate, new freshmen and sophomores join the team to take their place.

Coaches often know about their sports teams’ initiations, whether they are just silly and harmless or actual hazing. In August of 2021, a lawsuit involving alleged hazing was filed by parents of two football players at Plainfield Central High School, only an hour away from New Trier. The lawsuit asserts that coaches were very much aware of the team’s hazing traditions and even had a nickname for it: “Code Blue.” The seniors who were conducting the hazing had had the same done to them as freshmen, with the knowledge of the coaches. Usually, hazing is part of a sports team’s “culture,” and has been passed down from class to class of players as a sacred tradition.

The reason that hazing is so prevalent nowadays is because of its hereditary nature. The students doing the hazing were hazed themselves, by students that were also hazed. Hazing is also a major issue on college campuses. Between 2019-2021, there were 14 deaths due to hazing reported, a majority from Greek life. Sports teams and even a Florida Marching Band also participate in these “rituals.”

So if hazing is so clearly cruel, why haven’t most of these groups stopped yet? And why haven’t seniors who have been through hazing of their own decided not to make their new members go through it?

Part of it lies with the power imbalance between seniors, who have three years of experience under their belts, and new members, who have none, making them an easy target. There also comes a sense of pride with continuing traditions passed down by team members long graduated and continuing with the organization’s history. There’s also the component of the seniors having been hazed themselves, and incorporating the new members as a part of the team by making them go through what they had to go through.

However, there are clearly other ways to bond with new team members that don’t put their safety at risk. Many teams do fake “kidnappings,” where (with parents’ permission) they wake new members up early in the morning and initiate them in non harmful ways, then take them out to breakfast.

While it’s important for teams to get to know each other, and for new members to feel like a part of the team, there are ways it can be done without putting students’ safety and lives at risk, and without risking getting suspended and not being allowed to participate in the events that bind them together in the first place.