WASHINGTON – Members of the lobbying group FratPAC, which includes over 20 of the nation’s leading fraternities and sororities, are making a brave and principled stand against lawmakers who would like to strip those groups of their right to abuse and mercilessly beat their own members. In the 2011-12 election cycle, FratPAC spent over half a million dollars lobbying against anti-hazing legislation, and its leaders say they won’t stop until they feel secure in their freedom to torture defenseless teenagers.
“For too long fraternities and sororities have been attacked and violated for simply being who they are,” said Ken File (Delta Tau Delta), president-elect of FratPAC. “Do you know what it’s like to be victimized like that? I’ll tell you: It’s like you’ve just been forced to drink a half gallon of gin and roll around in other peoples’ feces.”
File said that the proposed legislation—which would strip financial aid from students who engage in hazing—is part of a larger “crusade” against Greek life culture. “They just want us to conform,” File explained. “They want us to buy into their chosen way of life, and because they know its bullshit, they rely on metaphorical violence to create group cohesion. It’s morally repugnant.”
File cites the fact that “only 59 kids have died” in hazing-related incidents since 2005, a number he calls “minuscule.” “That’s nothing,” he said. “More people than that caught the herp at Delta’s last mixer. Would they stop us from having drunken, unprotected sex as well? Why don’t we just join the chess club?”
Although many common hazing rituals—such as forcefully inserting objects into pledges’ rectums and brutal rounds of “paddling”—would, in other circumstances, be considered rape or battery, Kevin O’Neil (Lambda Chi Alpha), FratPAC’s executive director, says there’s a “world of difference” between hazing and assault. “Pledges choose to take part in these bond-building exercises,” O’Neil offered. “Just because they make that choice out of a desperate need to belong and feel accepted doesn’t make us bad guys.”
FratPAC’s lobbying has so far proved effective. The group seems to have convinced Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fl.) to drop her proposed anti-hazing bill, which was inspired by the 2008 death of Harrison Kowiak, a North Carolina student who died after being beaten by members of Theta Chi in a hazing ritual.
“Yes, from time to time someone dies,” O’Neil said. “But if they can’t handle a little rough-housing, they’re not Greek material anyway—so how can their lives possibly matter?”