Many people think of the word cult as a dark and secret society that involves only religion bias. However, when one thinks about secret societies and what they are it is then realized that there are many others that are in the concept level of possibly being. The meaning of the word cult is, Webster’s New World Dictionary that defines cult into terms that I most agree. “1. System of religion worship 2. Quasi; religious group often living in a colony, charismatic leader, who indoctrinates members with unorthodox belief practices or beliefs 3.Admiration for a person principle, or lifestyle especially regarded as a fad. 4. Object of such attachment. 5. Group of followers.” Many of the similarities are present as some of the activities of a fraternity resemble a cult. Think of a frat house, their initiations, their parties, and their intermingling that goes on within the group. In order to do this I may need to explain the meaning of a fraternity.
In comparison to the word fraternity that, Thinkexist.com gave me the meaning of fraternity that I agreed with the most, “1. State of quality of being fraternal or brotherly: brotherhood or sisterhood. 2. Men of same class, profession, occupation, character, or tastes. 3. A body of men associated for their common interest, business, pleasure, a company, brotherhood, and society, in Roman Catholic church, association for special religious purposes, for relieving the sick and destitute.”
When your college student comes home for the weekend, Holidays, or just calls think of how some Fraternities work. Though your child is an adult something like Matt Carrington still could happen. Matt Carrington lost his life just three years ago in January.
Matt Carrington wanted to become a member of a fraternity and part of his initiation was to perform embarrassing pranks at first and then undergo pledge week. There was a set pledge week that started January 30, 2005 it was deemed as “Hell Week”.
The newcomers were to sleep in the basement of the fraternity house, and there were notches in the foundation for them to sleep upon. The sewer pipes had burst and leaked sewage into the basement, rather than reschedule “Hell Week” continued.
Matt and other pledges were forced to do push ups and sit ups in at least two inches of sewage until five in the morning. The next night was dubbed as “Pledge Olympics” it was held from eleven at night until three in the morning, where assorted exercises were performed as well as running up and down the stairs.
On February 1, 2005, it was “Movie Night”. Fraternity members played poker and watched movies in the basement while the pledges stood on one foot on a wooden bench and drank water from a five gallon drum. The pledges only wore their underwear and jeans; they were to ask fraternity members when they could urinate on themselves so as the members knew when to make fun of them. They were asked to “take one for the homie”, which meant they were to dump water on themselves when fraternity members asked them.
Fraternity members asked them history questions about the fraternity and if someone answered them wrong then all the pledges had to perform extra exercises. While the pledges were drenched in their own urine, water and consuming high intakes of water, there were fans that blew on them in forty degree weather of the basement.
At about four in the morning Matt Carrington had a seizure that lasted around two minutes. There was a fraternity member that was going to seek immediate help, but was stopped by another fraternity member. Instead of seeking assistance they undressed Matt and covered him in a blanket and laid him on the couch. An hour later, he stopped breathing. He was pronounced dead.
Matt Carrington died of cardiac dysrhythmia, cerebral edema, hypo thermia, and water intoxication. Fellow fraternity members confessed that the same ritual had been performed by the fraternity for over twenty years. What is known as Matt’s law was passed on August 24, 2006. The law defines hazing and initiations as being compared to a crime. It also states that anyone that is known to want to participate or is participating in hazing will be fine no less than one hundred dollars. Such as in Matt’s case, it will be punishable by time in prison.
After years of universities, colleges and even some high schools looking the other way from the groups’ activities, it is now being seen as a problem. The hazing and social orders of many fraternities have caused deaths and social disorder among universities.
Hazing is a process of initiation in some fraternities or sororities. This is how they know whether the individual will be true to the fraternity. As fraternity members believe that they must stick together as one family.
As of 2006, the bill in California,SB 1454,Sec. 3,(b), describes hazing as “conduct which causes, or likely to cause, bodily danger, physical harm, or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to another person in the course of the other person’s pre-initiation into, initiation into, affiliation with, holding office in, maintaining membership in any organization.”
Parents are not the only ones that are suffering emotional distress from the initiations and a hazing gone wrong, it is also the other students and other fraternity members.
Margaret Thalesinger, former professor of psychology at Berkley, identified many traits shared by fraternities and sororities that practiced hazing would usually also practice cult type activity. The cult type activity appears to have systematic, manipulation and coercion that affects members on psychological as well as social level.
It is control and isolation of the new comers that allow those followers to become weak in their judgments. The newcomers pledge includes limited or suspended communication with parents, other family members, friends, classmates or others that are outside of the fraternity or sorority.
Some of the groups’ choice of isolation also includes complete isolation from non members, shaved heads, forbid showers, change of clothes, and may force the newcomer to wear a ridiculous and embarrassing costume for a said period of time.
Once the newcomers are cut off from who they would usually confide and rely upon in day to day life, it is then that the fraternities enforce dependency of the fraternity. It is now that they will promise with candy coated images of a family with in the fraternity.
Many students that are attracted to fraternities in the first place are those that are lonely enough to seek out the feeling of a organized and popular group of individuals. Many students wish to have a way to escape stress from the change of high school to university, lack of family around, new friends, need to meet new people and perhaps find a date and many fraternities offer these as members.
Just as a cult a fraternity does not deem someone a member until they have gone through the hazing or initiation process. The newcomer believes that the abuse will pay off after the ceremony is complete. They will be able to have dates, immunity and the brotherhood or sisterhood from the either the fraternity or sorority will protect them.
It is both cults and fraternities that fall into addictive organizations. The reasons for this are that fraternities are giving statistics the highest rates of alcoholic abusers in the United States. They also have some of the largest deaths related to alcohol. The numbers of cult deaths related with alcohol are the equal numbers of fraternities.
Cult members are often stereotyped as extremists who try to justify the actions outside of the range of any normal behavior. It is also found to be similar in fraternity activities that seem to be outside of range of normal behavior for a student. For example, the sales of a blow up doll or other sexual oriented toys after biology class. This is definitely outside of normal behavior. Even to the extremes of raping a female student and the fraternity member feels that it is not outside of the normal behavior of a human. The female should have wanted him rightly as he was popular and charismatic and had survived such a hazing, also may have the feeling that the non member was not an equal to his level of humanity.
Many fraternities will tolerate illegal activities such as rape, and even protect the other members that may have been involved. It has been found that many fraternities encourage the acts invincible feelings, which many of the hazing are to test in the first place.
Though fraternities do not usually have a deity as cults, they do have an enforced pledge that makes members put the chapter first before personal interests. They are also to put their leader first, and their leaders best interests first. Just as cults make it hard for members to leave, so do fraternities or sororities as the relationship that is being built in fraternities and sororities is viewed as being able to last a lifetime. Fraternity members have a high risk of post traumatic stress when wanting to leave the and some newcomers also experience the tremendous stress when they can not handle the hazing or initiation process.
One of the largest misconceptions is that cult members only are made up of misfits, deviants, social rejects, and their influences are far removed from everyday influence. However, the truth is that it is becoming recognized that charismatic, popular, athletic students are participating in rituals that have been around as long as universities and high schools stood.
These rituals are now being recognized as the comparison to cult type activity. Even more shocking is that these activities are not just student participation, but also faculty and administration involvement. This supports the pledge that it is very difficult for one to leave a fraternity, even after graduation, which leaves alumni being part of the fraternity for years after graduation.
Another problem to view is that these cult activity fraternities do not just exist in large universities, but also small colleges and high schools. Unfortunately, no one can give exact numbers on how many fraternities or sororities that do practice cult type activity. Since fraternities and sororities have been around for as long as their have been universities and high schools it is unfair for fraternities or sororities to be banned. There are some fraternities or sororities that do not practice cult type activities. There are forty one states that have their own laws for what that state constitutes as hazing or initiation and fraternities and sororities now have to abide by these laws.
The subject of cults is indeed a very highly controversial subject due to the fact that many years it earned this secretly dark stereotype, but because it’s meaning in itself does not always reflect the organized religion on its own name to be recognized as dark or evil. Yes, as soon as someone mentions the word cult as a description of that organization it then becomes dark and evil.
Yet, one must now compare Matt’s story to the views of fraternities behavior being placed into a dark, evil secret society. The first controversy of this subject is the taboo thought that the name cult means nothing more than word for dark magic, evil and taboo. One can not deny that there are indeed certain groups that exist that do cohabitate and resemble these effects, but not every one of these groups. The misconception of all cults being this way comes from the negative impact that has occurred throughout history. The bad name in history is some of the reasons some organized religions that were frowned upon originally became a secret society that became known as a cult. In some truth it reflects the proof that society remembers the bas as an instinct to protect them.
The second controversy is being allowed to speak of cults without being looked down upon, people becoming scared of your individual beliefs or thoughts. One of the biggest problems is the automatically placing you either in a cult or wishing to be a member of a cult. Society quickly labels individuals that step out of how the majority feels in their comfort zone.
For the most part the biggest controversy is the peoples’ fears and the reputations that cults have spread into that society. Yet, society has labeled many fraternity members as the elite of that chose fraternities. They are the ones that throw the coolest parties, are the charismatic athlete and the one that has the hottest girlfriends. The leader of the fraternity is resembled to that of a god and everyone should bow before him, worship them or bow before them. Though many people will continue to feel that cult type activity still only involves religion, we can now at least take the recognition that there are indeed cult type activities within our universities and colleges.
I would also like to add that not all fraternities were found to have been practicing such hazing or cult type activity. Some fraternities are exactly the purpose that some would view as a fraternity, innocent group collected together with the same ideas and beliefs.