USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘hazing’
Customs
Game
Humor
Musical

Long Island High School Band Customs

A – “There are a couple things we always did, every day we had class, once we got to class back in high school.  There’s this thing at Schreiber [our High School] where, every musician with their instrument ready would blow out some really poor-sounding tone, and then there would be a response from the other side of the room.  It didn’t really matter who responded, so sometimes there was more than one, but, you know, as long as there was a response.  And yeah, just a really poor tone coming from any instrument.  So this would happen every class, so twice a week, before our teacher/conductor got there, we were all getting ready.  This is kinda just our way of maintaining our individuality from the other students at school, I think we were all rather proud of being in the band.”

How were you Introduced to this tradition?

A – “So the first time I got into the band my sophomore year, I noticed people doing it, but no one actually said anything about it.  It took me a couple weeks before I realized that it was, like, an actual thing that we always did.  Taking part in that was kinda like a rite of passage, once you did it, you were a real member of the band.”

A – “I definitely won’t forget that we did that, I think just because it brings me back to my time in the band, where I had a lot of fun and spent time with people I liked.”

 

I was actually in the band with A, and I got there a year before he did.  So it was fun for me, who had gone through the same sort of vetting process with this one tone call and response, to watch him as he learned of it’s existence, and soon became proficient in it.  I definitely agree with his idea that this was a sort of rite-of-passage situation; I’d also add that it was almost a weird way of hazing new members, getting them to think that we sound awful, getting them to wonder why they’re even there if that’s the case.  Then we start playing.

general

Film Company Hazing

SS interned at a production company, and experienced occupational folklore in the form of hazing. When someone at her company messed up as bad as she did, they would be forced to coil cables indefinitely.

SS: Once upon a time when I was a wee lassie, young, naive, full of enthusiasm for the art of filmmakimg, I in my ignorance accepted an internship at a local prod. company in Tucson, Arizona. The production company was supposed to train me in grip and electric work on film sets in addition to giving me a better understanding of how film industry worked. one evening, the most useful work they could put their intern to do was to go through the email of the previous owner of the company. This owner never ever understood how technology worked. This man is a modern dinosaur. It was astounding he could even turn on the computer. So when I was given the task to clean out this guys email (had had it for 10+ years), tidy it up, and find contacts I knew it would be daunting, but never knew it would be impossible. As I ventured to the abyss of this inbox, I realized there were over 15,000 unopened emails in which I have to find any important filmmaking connections. So I’m going through and trying to set up a system. I learn this guy’s entire life, lots of personal details just by going through his email. My boss comes in and says ‘Hey if you find any pics, download those as well.” So sure enough I find a few emails with pictures and try to download. It doesn’t work. I keep clicking download, download download. The I realize the computer is frozen. Completely overloaded and overworked. Ok, just gonna take a step back and give it some time to breathe. An hour goes by. The little rainbow wheel of death is still spinning. The boss comes in and asks “Are you done yet?”

“Fuck no, also the computer’s frozen.”

“Turn it off and back on.”

I leave work at 5 o’ clock usually. Clock hits 5, gotta go, man. I think it might just need to figure itself out overnight. Later, I realized what I had done was download 6,000 copies of this picture to the desktop. The next Thursday, I get back to my internship. No one is speaking to me. This guy goes “Hey do you know what you did to the computer? Well, you completely destroyed that computer.” Whoa danger zone, unprotected. Long story short, they had to take computer into apple store, because it wouldn’t respond for 3 days. Took some cray diagnostic.

“We aren’t going to let you do anything on the computer today, instead we have a different assignment for you.” They’re obviously pissed.

Keep in mind, it’s a casual 100 degree day in Tucson, Arizona. My new job: go outside and recoil a bunch of massive cables that were coiled counterclockwise. I had to recoil them all over, in clockwise direction.

They told me that “we know you’re not really good at coiling cables, so we thought this would be good practice.”

It was ACTUALLY ABUSIVE I went home and listened to music people picked cotton to I felt like I could relate for the first time in my life to slaves. I couldn’t move for 2 days. It’s the heaviest cable that exists. Also, I still can’t coil cord.

Folk Beliefs
Legends

Sorority Hazing (Kappa Cow)

Piece:

There is a legend of hazing in the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at USC in which all of the new members are weighed on a scale each week and the “fattest one” is called the Kappa Cow for the following week. The Kappa Cow story is an explanation as to why all of the girls in the sorority are “skinny”.

Informant & Context:

My informant for this piece is a member of a sorority at USC and heard this legend from another member of the Greek system here. She is not a member of the mentioned sorority and makes no claims as to the story’s authenticity—it is merely a story that has travelled around the USC campus over time. The specifics of my source remain anonymous. Other accounts of this story include public shaming in the form of Mooing at the selected individual and various other forms of body shaming.

Thoughts:

In recent years, Greek life on college campuses has been highlighted for hazing stories such as this, which have turned out to be true. I make no claims about the verity of this story. I believe that this story may be a piece of fakelore that has sprung out of the fairly popular notion on the USC campus that that the sorority is highly exclusive to “hot, rich snobs” (Urban Dictionary). I find stories around hazing in the Greek community on college campuses especially interesting because of my proximity to it as well as the social barrier to entry they create. Essentially, whether or not they are true, these stories dissuade many people from attempting to join Greek life in schools.

Folk Beliefs
Legends

Sorority Hazing (Secret Code)

Piece:

There is a legend that an exclusive sorority at USC had developed a code to ensure that they only recruited girls that met their aesthetic standards (which were at odds with the recruitment plan of their organization as a whole at the national level). Girls that were nice and overall reasonable candidates for the sorority but did not meet the aesthetic standards of the current members would be described by the active members as “pretty, smart, nice” which was a code that they used to reject a reasonable applicant without having to make themselves culpable to their national board.

Informant & Context:

My informant for this piece is a member of a sorority at USC, though not the one that this legend is about. Both sororities will remain anonymous. My informant had heard other members of her sorority talking about this legend. There is no information to confirm or deny its verity. This is a modern legend that has existed for presumably upwards of the last five years.

Thoughts:

There are a lot of legends around sorority hazing and sorority recruitment. I believe that this one is an attempt to provide reasoning for the consistently similar aesthetic of the members of the sorority in question. Though, another reasoning may be that these legends are attempts by others to sabotage a reputation and are in fact fakelore. Regardless, I find these stories interesting because they are in effect, organizational gossip.

Customs
Humor
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Kidnapping the New Members

“So basically when we were sophomores, we um started this thing, like it was our coach’s idea, and she thought it would be fun for the veteran members, who had been on the team at least a year, to kidnap the new members right before football season started. And this was kind of like an opportunity for the veteran members to have a lot of fun with sneaking into the house and scaring the new members and forcing them to put on different parts of the uniform, like as a joke, over their pajamas, or like blindfold them sometimes, but it was all ok with the parents and everything. We emailed them and they knew about it and let us in without waking up the new members so we would surprise them. But it wasn’t too mean because we took them to breakfast afterwards so it was kind of humiliating for the new members but like fun at the same time.”

 

Informant: The informant is a nineteen-year-old college freshman from Dallas, Texas. While in high school, she was a member of the Jesuit Rangerettes Dance and Drill Team. She attended the all-girls Catholic high-school, Ursuline Academy of Dallas, the sister school of Jesuit Dallas (an all-boys Catholic school). She began dancing when she was three, performing ballet, jazz, and lyrical styles of dance, which eventually led her to the high-school drill team. She currently attends Oklahoma State University.

 

Analysis:

 

The Rangerettes Dance and Drill Team is an extracurricular activity unique to Texas and a few other southern states. The team performs at the half-time of football games on Friday nights, as well as at basketball, soccer, and rugby games. They wear leotards with fringe skirts, fringe and sequin overlays, gauntlets, a belt, white cowgirl boots, and sequined cow-boy hats. The season does not end with football season; rather, the team continues to perform at Jesuit events and participates in two dance competitions in the spring. Because this team is a year-long commitment, there are many extenuating traditions that serve to unify and “bond” the members of the team, in order to foster a spirit of sisterhood.

I believe that this tradition is an important part of the initiation process. Within most teams and organizations there is an initiation process that can be humiliating at times, but the purpose is to essentially assert the dominance of those who have more experience, while also inducting the new members into the group. Because the kidnapping of the freshmen was an event that was meant to frighten the freshmen in a mild manner, it was carried out with gusto by the veteran members. I believe that this was their opportunity to not only be assertive of their prowess as veteran members, but to also remind the sometimes insubordinate new members of who was in charge. While this task was carried in good fun, it had a distinct message of who was in charge.

However, it also promoted a bonding experience for the team. Although the initial element of scaring the freshmen may demonstrate the apparent division in the team between new members and veterans, the ending of the ritual is a team breakfast. When the blindfolds are removed, and the new members are allowed to orient themselves with where they are, they are allowed to realize that the practice took place in good faith. The reconciliation with the team at breakfast, which culminates with the veteran members buying the breakfast for the new members, demonstrates the finality of the initiation process. The timing of this event also reinforces this as well, as it is carried out at the beginning of football season. This means that the practice and training of the new members is over, and that they will be able to finally perform as true team members, while still recognizing the authority of the veterans.

 

Folk Beliefs
Legends

Sorority Hazing (Washing Machine)

Piece:

Regarding a particular legend surrounding sorority hazing: “you have girls sit on washing machines naked and girls circle parts on their body that jiggle.” The legend goes that all of the new (or potential) members of the sorority would go through this process and then be labeled as fat based on the circled (in marker) parts of their body. They would then be insulted and chastised to work out and eat healthier to get rid of those spots.

Informant & Context:

My informant for this piece heard this legend from another member of her sorority, though this story is not specifically linked to her sorority. Rather, this story is linked to sororities in general surrounding their practices from several decades ago.  Specific houses and people are not named to retain anonymity. The informant stated that there aren’t many more details because the story is “pretty dated” and this method of hazing is “not used anymore”.

 Thoughts:

I find that many of these dated hazing stories provide an interesting array of scare tactics that essentially equate to new members being asked to show how badly they want to be a member of this club; how much are they willing to endure. Stories such as this mostly date back to the 1960s-1980s which by all accounts that I’ve heard, sound like a really good time to have been involved in Greek life at USC. Essentially everything from that era seems to have been exaggerated: the parties were epic and the hazing was cruel. Though I cannot speak to the authenticity of any of these stories.

Folk Beliefs
Legends

Sorority Hazing (Compton)

Piece:

In one sorority at USC a legend is told of an act of hazing in the mid 1960’s: the new initiates were dressed in all white—sororities were predominantly white at that time—so as to resemble members of the KKK, and then they were dropped of in Compton—a predominantly black neighborhood, and instructed to find their way home. Given the time period, the girl would not have had cellphones or other means of emergency communication.

Informant & Context:

My informant for this piece heard this legend from another member of her sorority—whose mother was supposedly in said sorority during that period of time. She asked that the names be removed in order to reduce liability.

Thoughts:

Hazing is a prevalent thorn in the rosebush that is college Greek life. The theory is that once new members are chosen based on certain demonstrated criteria, they will be broken down so that they can be rebuilt together in the image of the house—to best represent their letters. A common theory is that the individuals need to be retrained to serve so that service in all forms will become for them an instinct or habit rather than an active decision.

This story is relevant to members of that sorority now because it serves as a comparison to make any smaller scale hazing appear significantly more reasonable and lighthearted. It also serves the purpose of a ghost story—which they may tell to new members to scare them during their introductory period.

Customs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Jiggle on the Washing Machine

“Apparently at Kappa, to haze you, they take all of the pledges [new sorority members] and sit them on top of running washing machines. Then they bring in some guys from different frats on the row and give them markers. It’s so fucked! They get these frat stars drunk and make them circle all of the parts of the pledges’ bodies that jiggle with the markers they give them.”

This account depends entirely on hearsay, making it all the more interesting. As the informant is a member of a rivaling sorority, it is possible that the story was invented slanderously. However, this particular hazing practice corroborates that image of Kappa Kappa Gamma, as an aggressively looks-oriented sorority, that seems to pervade USC. As with most hazing practices, this ritual promotes unhealthy body image, but reaffirms the dominance of older member of the sorority over the new members. Such practices are allegedly “team-building” and “character building,” at which I roll my eyes.

Customs
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

SigEp Gold Shorts and Vest

Every pledge class president of Sigma Phi Epsilon must wear gold shorts and an American flag vest during their live-in week of their pledge semester. Live-in week is the last week of pledging where you essentially live in the house and become everyone’s bitch for a week. You stay in the house on the floor with your whole pledge class, and you only leave to go to class.”

The informant was unclear as to whether or not this hazing ritual was a national tradition. However, he was certain that it was the case at USC, given that he was forced to do it, as pledge class president.

Customs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Kappa Cow

“So I’ve heard from other people in my sorority that in USC’s Kappa Kappa Gamma, every week at Monday night dinners, every girl in the chapter is weighed. And at the end of the weighing, the heaviest girl is named ‘the Kappa Cow’ for the week. Apparently they give her a little plastic cow figurine. It’s messed up.”

This account depends entirely on hearsay, making it all the more interesting. As the informant is a member of a rivaling sorority, it is possible that the story was invented slanderously. However, this particular hazing practice corroborates that image of Kappa Kappa Gamma, as an aggressively looks-oriented sorority, that seems to pervade USC. As with most hazing practices, this ritual promotes unhealthy body image, but reaffirms the dominance of older member of the sorority over the new members. Such practices are allegedly “team-building” and “character building,” at which I roll my eyes.

[geolocation]