Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and the Rev. Al Sharpton are taking on the fight against hazing in the nation. The historically Black fraternity and the civil rights leader, who is an honorary member of the fraternity, are continuing their work with the National Coalition to Stop Hazing.
It is now almost a year since the coalition was started, and the goal is to eradicate the tradition of hazing that has been associated with Black Greek-letter organizations. While the campaign aims to target fraternities and sororities, it will also focus on incidents of hazing elsewhere.
Hazing is defined as the practice of forcing an organization's new recruits to perform strenuous, humiliating and dangerous tasks to gain entry. While it has been most prevalent in academic settings, it is not uncommon among other groups, such as the military.
“Phi Beta Sigma wants to start a movement that will eliminate the culture of hazing,” said Phi Beta Sigma International President Jimmy Hammock. “At the end of the day, Phi Beta Sigma’s main objective is to be the leader in destroying the culture of hazing, not only within the African-American community, but also within the mainstream community.”
Headlines of recent hazing include the 2011 death of Florida A&M University marching band drum major Robert Champion, who died after being beaten on a bus during hazing ritual. This week, two females students filed a lawsuit against Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority at Howard University over accusations of hazing.
There was also a recent hazing incident involving members of the boys’ track team at the Bronx High School of Science. Three students involved in the incident appeared in court this week.
“Hazing is an injustice to all of us and we need to raise awareness within organizations who may be harvesting this culture and let them know that hazing is unacceptable," said Sharpton. "We also want to send a message to those who think it is tolerable for them to be hazed to belong, that they have support from collective groups. At the end of the day, the goal is to eliminate the culture of hazing."
Since the launch of the campaign, Phi Beta Sigma's sister organization, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, has joined the coalition. Phi Beta Sigma has also launched an ad campaign warning people about the affects of hazing and hosted town hall meetings about hazing at the National Action Network.