As people we have an intense desire to belong and an insatiable need to justify our actions. We love even the things that make us suffer because of that longing. Our desire to belong leads us to do crazy, painful and sometimes stupid things so our friends won’t shun us. This is peer pressure, that need to think our actions are not wasted or out of line that leads us to justify the actions.
Sports teams, military boot camps and social clubs tap into these two elements of our humanity to build camaraderie and a love for the organization. Drills, push-ups and yellow lunch boxes tear down the boundaries between individuals to form seamless teams. The bonds made in the pledging process are good for the ACU community as a whole; they knit the people on our campus closer together.
But, as we have seen this year, loyalty can quickly turn to blind allegiance.
Pledges collecting ACU usernames and passwords as part of a Homecoming Queen racket is not a safe practice and doesn’t build a stronger community.
Also, clubs claim to seek a Christian brotherhood, but lewd acts by pledges do not further that mission.
These are things that only pledges can stop. Problems arise when people forget what is right, when the individual becomes fully lost in groupthink. Mindless devotion leaves students unaware of how far is too far.
We shouldn’t need pledging rules and hazing laws to tell us where to stop. The rules won’t prevent anything. Pledges have to know when to say no – whether it is in the interest of protecting their personal information, safety or morals.
No matter what hazing laws the state enacts, students will always spend time “training for a marathon.” No matter what regulations ACU puts on pledging, students will go to “dinner and a movie.” And no matter how many people complain, students will continue “watching TV and picking daisies.”
To a certain extent this suffering is good. It creates a sense of community on campus and provides a sense of belonging. Even so, students have to be responsible for themselves and think about how far they are willing to go for membership in a club.