Hazing is particularly abhorrent because it precedes entry into a supposed enduring brotherhood. In the worst cases, the initiate is beaten literally to death, as, among others, Lenny Villa was, his killers driven by some murderous reason to inflict the most horrific punishment on someone they would subsequently, perversely, call “brod.”
You’d think young women, with their vaunted tender nature, would be above this barbaric ritual. But no. Hazing also happens in sororities whether in top-tier universities or diploma mills. The latest to be reported at the receiving end of violent behavior is a mayor’s daughter, a student at the Lyceum of the Philippines. After being threatened and intimidated into submitting to initiation, she was beaten and brutalized by her prospective “sisters”—and lived to tell the tale.
From accounts, the daughter of Mayor Eulalio Alilio of Lemery, Batangas, became interested in joining the Tau Gamma Sigma sorority after members talked up its supposed sense of community. But when later Larissa Colleen Alilio, 18, expressed second thoughts, the members threatened her life. Frightened, she agreed to go through the process and was taken to an abandoned house where some 40 sorority members assembled to give her hell. They hit her thighs repeatedly with a belt and a paddle, slapped her, pulled her hair, even poured melted wax on her back… Hours later, barely conscious, she was returned to her boarding house.
Alilio’s parents discovered what had happened only the next day. She was taken to hospital and charges—violation of Republic Act No. 8049 also known as the Anti-Hazing Law, as well as serious illegal detention—were subsequently brought against four sorority members identified only by their aliases. In a statement, Lyceum’s Office for External Affairs disclaimed knowledge of the hazing and said the university “does not tolerate or condone violence of any kind.”
The death in 1991 of Ateneo Law School freshman Lenny Villa at the hands of members of the Aquila Legis fraternity resulted in two frat members convicted of homicide and a third of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. But the Court of Appeals subsequently dismissed the cases, freeing all three. It is uncertain if they sleep easy.
RA 8049 was enacted in 1995, but hazing has continued to claim lives. Marc Andre Marcos. Nor Silongan. Noel Borja. Menardo Clamucha. EJ Karl Intia. Chester Paulo Abracias. Initiates die even as nameless others survive the secret beating and abuse.
Why are universities and colleges unable to stop this brutal practice, and why does it seem to be getting worse, with copycat hazing now de rigueur in even the most innocuous organizations? The prevailing culture of violence appears to encourage it, and the fact that prominent members of society, its very movers and shakers, are members of these elite clubs seems to discourage its extinction.
It is not enough for school authorities to wring their hands and declare that hazing is not an activity sponsored by their institutions. Hazing has festered in the halls of academe this long due to a kind of malign neglect—and, truth be told, de campanilla lawyers. It’s time for schools to take a strong, unambiguous position against hazing in whatever way or form. The law’s definition of hazing is clear: “an initiation rite or practice as a prerequisite for admission into membership in a fraternity, sorority or organization by placing the recruit, neophyte or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situations such as forcing him to do menial, silly, foolish and other similar tasks or activities or otherwise subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury.”
There is no justification for this twisted ritual to remain in practice. The Alilios and other aggrieved families should pursue their respective cases—although the exceedingly slow grind of the wheels of justice in these parts bestows on that statement an ironic, even insulting, ring—just as all authorities should enforce the law against those who would abuse those who simply want to belong.
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