Beyond the Basement: understanding the relationship between hazing and sexual violence

Disclaimer: The Radical is a publication that represents a diverse range of opinions and viewpoints that are often left out of other campus publications; published articles do not reflect the organization’s opinions or beliefs. The authors of this article and the opinions presented in this piece are in no way affiliated with the editorial board of The Radical including the editors of print editions of the paper. Regardless of the specific groups or acts involved, incidents of hazing have happened, do happen, and are continuing to happen across campus to many individuals. Our sole intention in creating this article is to promote reflection.

As a campus, we have finally begun to acknowledge the reality and prevalence of sexual violence. However, students at Dartmouth have yet to engage in sustained and meaningful public discourse regarding our culture of hazing. Fundamentally, hazing is coerced engagement in acts you wouldn’t otherwise do, in order to secure your position within a group. We argue that you cannot genuinely engage in sexual violence prevention while ignoring or denying that hazing routinely promotes or constitutes sexual violence.

Before we begin, we want to address those who might argue that hazees always have the choice to say no and can always refuse to participate in hazing rituals they are uncomfortable with. Here we can draw parallels to coerced sexual assault, in which perpetrators use non-physical forms of pressure to elicit acquiescence. Similarly, although hazees might technically be able to utter the word “no,” the pressure of actual or perceived social consequences prevents them from genuinely having the freedom to opt out when placed in an uncomfortable or unsafe situation.

We should also consider why the individuals most committed to defending hazing are individuals who were hazed in some form themselves. Cognitive dissonance theory can help us understand why this might be: according to the theory, individuals feel discomfort, or dissonance when their attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs are inconsistent or in a state of disharmony. Thus, when dissonance arises, we are motivated to resolve it. For instance, someone who is genuinely against sexual violence might feel initial discomfort when participating in coercive hazing rituals. According to the theory, one of the ways we eliminate our dissonance is to rationalize the behaviors that seem at odds with our values, such that we convince ourselves that our values are in a state of harmony. This might be exactly what happens when we see individuals describe their hazing experiences as benign or even positive, or when the hazee becomes the pledge master the next year. Rather than confronting our moral inconsistencies, we convince ourselves that hazing is harmless, we double-down on our investment and defend the practice to defend ourselves from dissonance.

But back to our original query, how might hazing constitute or promote sexual violence? We acknowledge that there is certainly a spectrum of violence amongst hazing practices. At the extreme, hazing rituals involve sexual misconduct, including acts that range from harassment to penetrative assault. Simple google searching will lead you to numerous hazing scandals across the nation about athletic teams, fraternities, and many other kinds of organizations who engaged in forced anal penetration of younger members. Acts that involve coerced nudity or touching that infringes upon one’s bodily autonomy are examples of these forms of hazing that constitute sexual misconduct.

Even when hazing acts do not constitute sexual violence, they often still perpetuate rape culture. Hazing rituals often reinforce toxic masculinity, asking men to prove themselves by withstanding pain or discomfort. Other acts involve the dehumanization of women as sex objects when members must produce proof of their conquests or interactions with women in order to receive validation. Heteronormativity and homophobia are also embedded in certain hazing acts, such as joint sorority-fraternity activities rooted in the assumption that all members of a single-gender house are heterosexual. In these contexts, the performance of an aggressive, heterosexuality is preeminently valued. Though students and groups have publicly pledged to combat the norms and behaviors that perpetuate rape culture, many continue to perpetuate them in their covert world of hazing.

On an individual level, experiencing hazing makes a person more likely to recycle the violence they have experienced in their own relationships. When an individual undergoes hazing, they must grapple with the trauma of being repeatedly disempowered and victimized. Because no one wants to conceptualize themselves as a disempowered victim, hazing threatens one’s sense of agency. To defend against the discomfort of losing their agency, individuals inflict harm on others to reaffirm their sense of empowerment. The result is a cycle of trauma in which victims of hazing may recycle that violence in other interpersonal interactions.

Frighteningly, hazing culture seems to be accepted as the norm across all parts of campus. We know that many non-Greek organizations systematically haze new members. As a student body, we have normalized hazing as a central mechanism through which we create our communities and define group membership. There are so many other ways to form strong connections and communities that are entirely harmless. Why do we choose to inject violence into our communities by forming our groups on a foundation of coercion and degradation? Not only should we eliminate the hazing rituals that constitute or encourage sexual violence, but we should also question any hazing that encroaches on individual autonomy. When we force pledges to drink handles of hard alcohol until they vomit or become incapacitated, we derive excitement and entertainment from watching them push their boundaries of comfort and safety. Why would any of us want this to be the basis of our communities?  

Although we may want to hold on to romanticized hazing traditions AND work towards eliminating sexual violence, we cannot do both. You cannot pressure your members to dress or act outrageously in public and ignore that this coerced embarrassment exploits power differentials and promotes a perverse form of entertainment at the expense of another’s discomfort. You can’t go from discussing your commitment to violence prevention at a MAV facilitation to, a few hours later, coercing new members to drink until they are uncomfortable and in danger. One value system is in direct opposition to the other. If you spend hours throughout a term violating the bodily autonomy and personal consent of your peers, there is no way this will not impact your behavior in other contexts. If in order to bond with your fellow members, you have to accept an environment in which personal consent is consistently violated, you are actively permitting norms that promote sexual violence, no matter how you may act or think in non-hazing settings.

Even so, many organizations that assert publicly an active commitment to sexual violence prevention continue to engage in extensive, regimented hazing. On the Night of Solidarity in April 2018, numerous Greek and non-Greek organizations sent campus-wide emails championing robust commitments to the values of sexual violence prevention; some went so far as to welcome accountability for their actions if they fail to live up to their commitments. While these emails represent at the very least a semantic shift toward actively preventing sexual violence, it is clear that all of us have failed to integrate these ideas into our everyday behaviors. If we genuinely want to strive for safety and accountability, we should eliminate all hazing. Allowing hazing to persist is an active choice to perpetuate a culture of violence. It is morally unethical and entirely hypocritical to be denouncing such violence in one context while committing it in another.

Are we going to turn a blind eye to the violence we know will persist if we don’t intervene? We can eliminate hazing from Dartmouth. We can reject the notion that shared trauma is the basis of strong communities. We can uproot sexual violence from the foundations of our communities.


NOTE: This article is part of a series of Spanish to English translations done with the intent of informing the American left of the dangerous political situation of leftists in Mexico.  Originally posted in the Popular Revolutionary Front (FPR)’s website on February 4, 2015.  The Popular Revolutionary Front is Mexico’s Marxist-Leninist communist party.  

Yesterday February 3rd our comrade Gustavo Salgado Delgado, member of the Popular Revolutionary Front, was declared missing, and today, it is confirmed that he has been assassinated.  We put the responsibility of his death on the state of Morelos and the Mexican State in general.  This crime is a part of the politics of terror that the State implements to try to sow fear in popular movements in general and in our organization in particular.  Let us be clear: this crime hurts us as the FPR collective, but it gives us more reasons to pull at the structures of power and cause the fall of this regime of hunger and misery, of exploitation of death.

We will not reduce our participation in the people’s movements, on the other hand, we will continue participating and moving the Popular National Assembly, the Popular National Convention, and the General Political Strike forward.  We know that we are at a critical juncture in the history of this country, in which we will either organize and join together in a unified front to discard the bourgeoise and their State or fascism will be institutionalized openly in our country.

Let us be clear that the objective that we propose is revolution, to rip apart this political, social, and economic system so that there will be no place for those who exploit nor those who enable them; for each citizen murdered, disappeared, tortured, jailed, or persecuted, the people will exact justice.

In the same way that they have taken Gustavo, Gregorio Alfonso, Lauro Juarez, Manuel Gonzalez, Gil Ramirez, among other comrades fallen in battle, the comrades in the rest of the movement will express our pain and anger by elevating our ways of agitating and organizing until we reach our historic objectives.





Activist Leader Who Led Ayotzinapa Protests Found Decapitated (translation)

NOTE: Article is an English translation from the original Spanish.  Originally posted by on February 5, 2015.  Original article here. 

Brutal crimes keep shocking Mexico.  On Wednesday, a crime was learned that shook the states of Guerrero and Morelos: activist Gustavo Salgado Delgado was found decapitated.  The young 32 year old was the leader of the Popular Revolutionary Front (FPR) and more than 4 months ago, when the 43 students of the Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa went missing, he led protests urging authorities to present the missing students.

The activist leader was kidnapped on Tuesday by an armed group when he left a general assembly of farm workers from the Montaña de Guerrero.  On Wednesday at 5PM, the worst had been confirmed: he had been assassinated.  His body was found on an isolated location in the state of Morelos, with visible signs of torture, and he had been decapitated.

Gustavo Salgado Delgado had been planning on participating in marches advocating for the missing students of Ayotzinapa, which took place on Wednesday at the University of Morelos.  The activist had been an avid participant of the movement advocating for the 43 students who have been missing in Iguala since the 26th of September, 2014.

Salgado was also known for advocating for and organizing farm workers in Guerrero. These farm workers were affected by the heavy rains of hurricanes Ingrid and Manuel, and were hoping to settle in Morelos, where they wished to work in the cane fields, without any rights.  The presence of these displaced farmworkers became a political issue for owners of the cane fields, according to reports from the newspaper Excelsior.

His Disappearance

Members of the FPR, who announced on Tuesday that their leader was missing, blamed the kidnapping on the authorities of the state of Morelos and the state of Guerrero, as well as the governor of the state of Morelos, Graco Ramirez.

Those who last saw Salgado announced that Salgado had left a meeting in El Chivatero, Morelos on Tuesday at 6PM, and took public transit to the municipality of Ayala, where he was to attend another meeting.  Those who waited for him in Ayala were worried by his absence, and started looking for him in nearby districts in the municipality, and soon after decided to announce his disappearance.

The reasons for his kidnapping and assassination are unclear, and the crime remains under investigation.  Members of the FPR issued a press release in which they maintained that “the political activity of our comrade has been consistently in the defense of land rights for farmworkers, and for the betterment of the municipality of Ayala, for the migrant farm workers of the Montaña de Guerrero and Oaxaca.

They add: “it is because of these activities that corrupt local governments and the state have maintained constant vigilance and harassment against [Salgado], as is demonstrated by his illegal detention on March 20, 2014 in Cuernavaca, Morelos, while he was participating in a march organized by the Citizen’s Front against laws of taxation.

For Women of Color Who Have Considered Silence When the Shame Became Too Much: An Open Letter

“The stories are endless, infinitely familiar, traded by the faithful like baseball cards, fondled until they fray around the edges and blur into the apocryphal.” – Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem 

When they ask you to be quiet, speak louder. There is something in the sound of your voice that men in power and the women who love them cannot stand the weight of. It is conviction, or something like self-love in the midst of so much hatred for that thing which stirs within us and compels us to speak.

They will tell you he did not do it. I do not know. I trust him. I love him. He held me. He is my brother, my friend, my mentor. You have no evidence. Where is your proof?

Do not show them where you keep your wounds. Save that for your sisters. Keep a tally.

There was that time in Cutter you witnessed a man pin a woman half his size against the wall and kick her legs apart. You danced around them hoping someone would intervene. No one ever did and you did not feel safe enough to speak. That night you vomit into the sink of your bathroom. The next day, you do not go to class. That was not repentance enough for the sin of sacrificing another woman to the beast of black man love but you allow yourself forgiveness.

There was the boy you loved who remained silent as you defended yourself and your friend from a man bigger than the both of you. The boy could not betray his friend, so he betrayed you, and you loved him anyway.

The time you saw the freshman girl, drunk as she was, being persuaded to leave with the boy you know has a temper. The one who threatens to gangbang bitches when he’s drunk. You try to give her the eye, shake your head, say no as quietly as you know how and in the end, she does not go. You are relieved.

The time you were dancing with your girls and the DJ asked the men in the room to leave no woman dancing by herself. He picks you up from behind and places you squarely against the soft mound biggering beneath his sweats. For a moment you forget to breathe. When you turn around to face him he is already backing away.

There was the woman you loved who left school without finishing. She sat you down before she left, without telling you she was leaving, and told you where she kept the knives. You were on a balcony. You remember watching the night sky, the path that led into the forest, the windows glowing warmly in the house across the street and thinking: what would it look like to disappear from all this pain? After she left, the man who bled her dry would visit you at work and leer at you until you served him. You had panic attacks for months.

“He was drunk.”

“He was stone cold sober.”

“He threw his phone at me”

“He chokes out women.”

“Stay away from him!”

“There were more of them in the room.”

We, older women as we are, have stories we will not tell you out of shame. We fear we will not be believed. That the men will learn of these stories and threaten us with lawsuits, with bodily harm, with social alienation. That the women will call us petty, conniving, liars.

We do not have reports, but we have memories and the nightmares that keep us up at night. We have the lived experience of our bodies and the fear that grips them when certain men walk by. The knowing that you too could be sacrificed at the alter of black man love.

These days, the reality is setting in that no other woman need be sacrificed at the altar simply because every woman before me has. It is not enough, anymore, that we whisper these stories to each other, that we pull women aside and warn them discretely.  We must be brave and force these men to contend with our rage. To witness the grief that comes out of gross neglect. Community is not community at the expense of survivors. It is not community without accountability, friendship, honesty, transparency, and the commitment to showing up for each other.

Thank you, young as you are, brave as you are, for refusing to consider silence when the shame became too much. For speaking out. For pushing us to choose between the men we love and the women they have broken. When you speak, there will be violence leveled against you because you threaten the very fabric of our community. The men you call out: they will be loved, they will be respected, they will have friends. And others will protect him. That is how they will continue to abuse.

But there are more of us who will listen and are ready to provide support. There are students, professors, staff members and alumni who stand in solidarity with survivors. In the new spaces we create together, you will never have to offer yourself up to the mouths of men to be worthy, to be valued, to be loved. In this new community, you will speak and we will listen.

Sadia Hassan is a guest columnist

President Hanlon Releases Moving Dartmouth Forward Decision a Day Early in Anticipation of Thursday Hangover

Due to what he is calling a complete oversight on his part, President Hanlon has decided to release his decision regarding the Greek System on Wednesday, citing his inability to ever get anything productive done on Thursdays. “I always go out on Wednesday nights. Sometimes I go to meetings, then post-meetings tails, and then I go out after tails, so I like to block off my entire Thursday to recover,” says Hanlon. Hanlon recalled one occasion when he met with an important donor on a Thursday morning, and had to leave in the middle of the meeting to go throw up. “It was not a good scene, bro,” he recalls. “Thursdays are just not a good day to make a big announcement like this one.”

Hanlon’s actual statement was as follows: “Yeah, the Greek System. Keep it. It’s fun. Anyone who doesn’t think so needs to loosen up and smoke a jay or something. Let’s abolish 10A’s, am I right?”

Brown: The Dartmouth’s Editorial Represented Gross Misconduct Because No One Asked Me My Opinion On It.


Recently, the Dartmouth published an editorial on the front page of their Homecoming issue calling for the abolition of the Greek system. Needless to say, it embroiled the campus in controversy. Many of my peers have weighed in on the editorial, and the D’s decision to publish it on the front page, saying that the editors of the D were on a “power trip,” and “hijacked the paper.”  These statements are ones that I would agree with, but I would say that the D’s most egregious misstep in the writing of this editorial was that at no point was I ever consulted or asked to give my opinion on the issue.

There is no excuse for such an oversight. I can be reached by cell phone, facebook, or blitz. In fact, if any of the editors of the D had contacted me, I would have been more than willing to sit down with them for an in person chat over KAF to tell them the real truth about the Greek system.

The real problem with the D’s editorial was their refusal to listen to student voices, the most important being my own. If the D had taken the time to hear other, more nuanced opinions on the Greek system, for example mine, I am confident that they would not have taken such a brash and irrational stance. For example, as a part of my fraternity, I have made some of the best friends of my life. The bonds I have formed with my brothers are ones that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I would be shocked if this fact, and this fact alone, was not enough to convince the D’s editorial board that their position was misguided. If the D had even thought to reach out to me, even just shot me a text, they would have known that I, as a person who accurately represents most of Dartmouth, have never been the victim of racist, homophobic, or sexist remarks in a fraternity or sorority. These allegations are clearly false, propaganda propagated by a fringe group of pronoun enthusiasts. If anyone from the D had thought to do a little bit of fact checking, or at least contacted me for the facts, they would have found out that these accusations hold no weight.

Another buzzword that gets thrown around a lot during discussions of the Greek system, and that the D editorial board did not ask me about, is exclusivity. People have this idea that Greek houses are “exclusive” spaces that somehow “exclude” people. I can tell you now that this is false. This, I feel, is one of the most untrue and misguided criticisms of the Greek system that I’ve heard. I am no stranger to exclusivity in its many forms. I have found places like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to be extremely exclusive, in addition to many campus groups, such as the Aires, the Dodecaphonics, and the Dog Day Players. However, to call the Greek system exclusive is the opposite of true. I was never excluded from my Greek house, in fact, I was offered a bid as soon as I rushed, and welcomed with open arms. As Dartmouth’s representative for all students, I can assure you that Greek Houses are nothing but welcoming spaces. Even at the most supposedly exclusive fraternity events, I have only ever felt warmly included. From tails, to formals, to meetings, I have never been excluded from any kind of event at my fraternity. Therefore, I maintain that these accusations of exclusivity, too, hold no weight, something that the Dartmouth would have learned had they had one conversation with me, even a short one in the comments section of a facebook post. What I’m saying is, there was no shortage of ways to contact me, and the responsibility for not doing so lies squarely on the D.

The bottom line is, the Dartmouth Editorial Board does not represent Dartmouth. Fringe groups like Real Talk, or the students who occupied Hanlon’s office last spring do not represent Dartmouth. The students who spoke out against the Greek system last year during the Great Debate do not represent Dartmouth. I represent Dartmouth, and so do you, provided that you agree with everything I believe. So I implore you, like-minded Dartmouth student, to be the change you wish to see in the world, and don’t be the change you don’t wish to see at Dartmouth. Because only we, the true voice of Dartmouth, can ensure that Dartmouth stays the same forever. Lest the old traditions fail.

Willy Brown ’15 is a guest columnist.


The Dartmouth Radical and The Dartmouth Action Collective present…


Disorientation Guide 2014-2015


 inspired by disorientation guides at
NYU, Columbia, Tufts, and UC Santa-Cruz

Beyond “Academic Freedom”: An Argument for Palestinian Liberation

~ Moulshri Mohan

The American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli government-funded academic institutions has provoked much righteous indignation among major news outlets in the U.S. “A repugnant attack on academic freedom” cries the Huffington Post. “Academic Freedom Against Itself” – a ponderous NYT opinion. “92 Universities reject the boycott” proclaims the Jerusalem Post proudly (wow, the neoliberal/corporate university supports you, you must be absolutely in the right). The Wall Street Journal gravely denounces the boycott as “A vote against Israel and Academic Freedom”.

But of course, USian universities and newspapers are the natural arbiters of justice. Who else? They themselves are in general such moral, upstanding institutions, with their consistent support for human rights (such as an affordable education…or unbiased reporting on international affairs…particularly in relation to the U.S.’s many humanitarian wars1).

What really amazes me, though, is how…basic the argument for so-called “academic freedom” in these articles is. Academic freedom is a concept that was put forward to protect academics from political pressure and censure (coming from universities or the state), and to ensure that they have freedom of inquiry. Though contested (which would be another article altogether), I think it is quite a useful idea.

I’m unsure as to how these righteous spokesmen for the public good think the boycott is infringing on academic freedom though, since it is patently, evidently, doing the opposite.

Firstly, and simply, the ASA’s Frequently Asked Questions lay it out quite clearly: individual scholars are largely unaffected by the boycott – they can come to the ASA conference/be hosted by the universities ASA members belong to. ASA members can collaborate with Israeli scholars on research and publications. Therefore, it is only the universities themselves, run on government funding, which are going to be affected by the boycott2.

Secondly…this whole argument rather reminds me of hate speech-spewing individuals defending themselves: “But but but – freedom of speech! The constitution! My rights!” I mean, really – who cares about racists?! Similarly, Israeli and American public voices invoke values of “open-mindedness!”, “tolerance!”, even bringing out that old beaten horse, “cultural exchange!” (i.e. [comfortable] [privilege-reinforcing] cultural exchange) to argue against the boycott. Well, how about some cultural exchange with Palestinians? (Or Iraqis, or Afghans, or Somalis). When Israel occupies Palestinian land, restricts the movement of Palestinians or visitors to Palestinian land, shuts down Palestinian universities and therefore shuts down Palestinian academic [and otherwise] voices; when the United States and its people happily support such an occupation…neither deserves to ask for rights. They already have more than their lot. The freedom of speech, the cultural exchange, the academic freedom they speak about are no more than rights afforded by empire2,3,4,5.

Thirdly, the “academic freedom” news outlets are referring to right now is a twisted version of its ideal self – it is right now a principle meant to protect the oppressed being used to keep the privileged oppressor on his throne. Freedom of inquiry cannot exist without human freedom. The two are inseparable concepts.

An example I’m sure all of us are familiar with: if a person or a group does not have money, forget about access to books, classes, teachers, graduate school, a job, critical thinking and dialogue, a voice. Similarly, if you haven’t been groomed all your life, forget about it. If you look different, forget about it. And if you come from an occupied territory, apparently, you can forget about it. This is all fundamentally at odds with both academic and human freedom.

Academics – or at least the academics that “count”– in Global North countries, and even to some extent those in third world ones, are a pretty privileged bunch. They have an education and a job. In addition, those who succeed in their world are born with other kinds of privilege as well. I’m a Psychology major and I hang out on the social sciences side of things – and I’ve had two professors of color in my whole time here. I’ve never had a non-American professor. This is no accident. And when you’re privileged it’s pretty easy to keep that going by doing “good science” and worrying about “publishing or perishing” rather than looking at the bigger picture of justice and representation. If the more privileged voices continue drowning out the less privileged ones – where’s the freedom in that?

This is what is passing for academic freedom in the United States, which is the global center of research in just about…everything today. And if this is what major news outlets and universities are defending, I want no part in it. The job of the academic is producing (and criticizing) knowledge. Okay, that’s great, excellent! I don’t particularly care what money-hungry universities (cough, cough, Dartmouth) or self-congratulatory newspapers say, but academics need to realize: it isn’t possible to produce a knowledge insulated from a human world (not just a human USA, or a human Israel) though – a world where people bleed, and die, and go hungry, and lose limbs and children, and are seen as at fault if they are poor, and as worthless if they are unemployed.

It doesn’t work to console students and themselves, make a grudging concession to the existence of unheard narratives, by saying “and of course there is a cross-cultural aspect to this…yes there was work on Japan and Israel and Europe…of course nothing is universal…of course there is research…” There isn’t enough research. And there are uglier, unhappier parts of the world that need to be explored, uncovered. And when people who are trying to do that (Palestinian scholars, if that wasn’t clear), trying to amplify their lived, unheard, narrative, are restricted and given less opportunity, and when that is presented as normal, freedom in general is compromised. “Research is me-search,” said a professor to us the other day. Well, the only me’s that are getting to do research are the supremely privileged ones, and that’s where the problem with the argument for academic freedom lies.

When people, and fields, and institutions, tell themselves that it is ok to be producing/disseminating/only getting funding and state permission for such an isolated, isolationist knowledge, they’re really just going along comfortably with the unquestioned narrative, the received wisdom, about morality, and good science, and objectivity (as if). A gentle reminder: another job of the academic is questioning received wisdom (of all kinds, not just limited to their field). This is why we need representation in academia – across the world. This is why the insulation of academics by the state, the corporate university, the capitalist mentality of “publish or perish”, and Ivy League elitism is so very harmful.

Perhaps it’s wrong and silly to care about “the academy” so much – it is rather ironic that I expect U.S. scholars, all benefiting somewhat from the same federal funding that supports Israel, to boycott it. However, simply for that reason I suppose – and also all the ones I have laid out above – I think ASA’s boycott of Israeli government-funded academic institutions, which are instrumental in the silencing of Palestinian voices searching for freedom, is a move that was courageous, and needed for a long time. It protects the intertwined issues of human rights and academic freedom, provides painfully needed representation, and levels the playing field of whose narrative gets heard, at least a little bit.


1Hallin, Daniel. We keep America on top of the world: Television journalism and the public sphere. Routledge, 2006.