blackface slapstick

Fraternity hazing

Nineteenth-century tradition increasingly threatened by political correctness and its own well-publicized excesses even as frat membership reached an all-time high in the ’90s of nearly 500,000 (up from a 1972 hippie-era low of 149,000).

Thanks to groups like CHUCK (Committee to Halt Useless College Killings), more than 35 states now have anti-hazing statutes, but enforcement is often limited to after-accident punishment and civil lawsuits.

With most national fraternities clamping down on school chapters (in part out of necessity to qualify for insurance purchasing collectives), initiation rites are now as likely to include date rape sensitivity training or alcohol awareness seminars as they are strippers, toxic levels of Jägermeister, or blackface slapstick.

Recent hazing accidents include the May 1994 death of a pledge at the black Kappa Alpha Phi chapter of Southeast Missouri State (he was “body-slammed”), which led to a major lawsuit exposing such practices as “bringing the knowledge” (in… Continue reading