Trying to understand fraternity violenceBy Sofia Logarta
Cebu Daily News
Recent deaths caused by fraternity initiation hazing reminded me of an article by Lourdes V. Lapuz, “The Adolescent”. Here, she points out that young females have many gender role models as they grow up because there are many females at home, but for many males, especially in the urban setting there are no males because they are out of the house. Two other studies confirm the absence of the father in the life of their sons. In the countryside there are more males, including their fathers to “initiate him to adult tasks”. So to answer the question, “What does it mean to be male ?” Many young men seek answers from the barkada . Often they get wrong ideas like being a grown-up male means smoking and drinking. In our culture, being male means being brave and able to stand pain and not to cry easily.
Lapuz further states that as they continue their search in the fraternity. And then declares: “mass media is another important mentor. Movies and TV provide models; so do basketball heroes, the chess champions, the student leaders and the pop singers.”
There are other reasons why male youth join fraternities. Joanne Ellise Melendez, Mary Grace Mora, and Andrew Pamorada asked them. Young people who were interviewed observed that there were benefits to be earned by joining a fraternity: “gain power and protection” by being part of a “powerful group” (Tristan Zantua); “academic support” (Kimberly Oliveros and Rachel Geronimo); “guidance and assistance from their senior frat brothers” (Jose Miguel Perez).
Several said that membership provides a sense of belonging—“A lot of people don’t want to be left out, they don’t want to become a loner.” (Jermaine Sy); “to build personal identity through various social groups (Monica Dugenia); “We all like to be a part of a social circle and it is natural for us to find a support system that will stay with us through good times and bad.” (Paula Therese F. Arnedo).
Others find security and protection in the fraternity: “it gives security when faced with situations like bullying.” (Chesca Cagara); “They look for people who will look after them.” (Vrigette Vuelba); “sometimes there are people who join frats just to temporarily get rid of their problems.” (Derek Awayan)
In UP Cebu, one gets to know about the various fraternities through their “tambayans” and the names of the frats on the objects they have donated: electric fans, bulletin boards, book stands, and others. I have been told that those from Cebu can stay longer and return to Diliman later because brods help them with enlistment. Most of us are aware of the professional assistance that fraternity membership provides. I’ve only heard about fraternity violence, but I have not actually seen it nor have I had to deal with it when I was in the Office of Student Affairs. As the students say, many wish to avail of fraternity membership because of the privileges they can get and are then willing to take the risk of the initiation rights.
What is disturbing is the apparent insensitivity to acts of violence seen these days. Have we become numbed by the exposure to aggression in the movies, television, and games? Have we taken this for granted because we even find it difficult to resist giving boys toy guns? Is there so much violence in their everyday experience so that they are no longer bothered by it? Some say that, it continues because school administrations have not actually seriously acted on it. In UP I have heard of university presidents actually do something about it.
Does our education include the nurturing of a gentle spirit, the peaceful soul? Do our values clarification sessions include the processing of our experiences with violence? Have we asked what happens to us when we inflict pain?
Whenever I had to give an introduction to a discussion on sexual harassment, I reminded our students of how respectful and courteous the original Filipino had been, how they always used to ask permission from all creatures, careful about being invasive.
When we study the history of nationalism in Asia, we watch the film Gandhi. I have always been very much impressed with his adherence to the principle of non-violence and how he inspired an entire movement on the principle of active non-violence. I usually call our students’ attention to the principle of “ahimsa” (non-hurt). I have always been interested in knowing more about this, so I asked Brother Art of Brahma Kumaris about it. He explained that this is deeply embedded in Hindu culture. He said that this has resulted in lower levels of violence among them. He also mentioned that what we eat has an effect on our behavior. Previously I thought that some vegetarians practiced it to nurture sensitivity to the inflicting of violence.
There is actually a great deal to be learned and shared regarding the meaningful and loving non-violence in the revolution Christ initiated. I believe this has not been explored enough to nurture the gentle spirit among our young.
Tags: fraternity death