A former Kappa Kappa Psi president recently shared this article in her news feed, which I found both interesting and highly accurate.
Hazing is an initiation practice, most common among young people, in which members of a group--such as a fraternity, military unit or sports teams--force newcomers to do unpleasant, humiliating or dangerous activities as a prerequisite to becoming a full-fledged member of the group. Although hazing is generally applied equally to every initiate, it can merge into bullying, in which special abuse is directed at certain individuals. At one time hazing was seen as harmless fun and was at least tacitly tolerated by adults--such as college presidents, military officers or team coaches--who possessed the power to end, or severely limit, the practice. Tolerance of hazing has declined, however, as a result of publicity and lawsuits (civil and criminal) resulting from incidents in which individuals were killed or maimed, such as through beating or coerced alcohol consumption. In spite of the fact that hazing is now banned in many institutions, and violent hazing is now a felony in many jurisdictions, notorious instances of abusive hazing still occur.
Two tragic cases both became public towards the end of 2011: (a) the beating death of a marching band member, Robert Champion, at Florida A&M University, apparently as the result of a hazing ritual, and (b) the suicide in a U.S. army base in Afghanistan of Private Danny Chen, apparently just after he had been severely humiliated by hazing from members of his unit. In both of these cases, as in most other severe hazing episodes, the action can be seen as foolish, in that the perpetrators seemed unaware of the dangers their activity posed, both to the victims (who were grievously harmed) and to themselves (some of whom are facing serious jail time). As a little more is known today about the Robert Champion case, and also because Danny Chen's case appears to be more a matter of group punishment (he was allegedly targeted for some performance lapses and also for personal characteristics, including his ethnicity) rather than a rite of passage ritual, my analytic comments will be reserved mainly for the college marching band case.
The author, Stephen Greenspan, goes on to identify four explanatory factors that make such behavior acceptable in so large a group. Interesting read, might offer some insight. I think was so amazing about the recent situation with Champion is how tacit universities have been about bands that have a history of this behavior. Dr. Greenspan points it out in his article, that many go into these situations knowing what to expect, that hazing will occur, yet still participate. And if the students know whats going on - in this case on 'Bus C' - how can none of the faculty be aware? Even if the organization is predominantly student led, there must be some level of university oversight, and someone that should have been responsible for their behavior of the band. It just boggles my mind that there was someone employed at that university knowing that beatings were going on when a student joined a particular bus (of all the stupid things to initiate for), and nothing was said, allowing physical violence to continue unabated.
Source Article (full text) is found here.