Brotherhood of barbarians
Fraternities are marketed as organizations that advance the academic welfare of their members, and enhance the social wellbeing of their alumni in their professional lives. In reality, however, fraternities are a scourge to students inside schools, and a menace to society outside schools.
In a tragic reminder of the kind of plague that fraternities represent, we are again tormented by the utterly senseless death of a young man in the hands of people he aspired to call brothers. Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, a law student of the University of Santo Tomas, died as a result of horrific injuries he suffered during a brutal fraternity hazing ritual.
From his mother’s account, Atio was initially hesitant to join any fraternity. But he was pursued with recruitment promises by UST’s Aegis Juris fraternity: The initiation rites will only test academic rigors and will not involve physical hazing. Once he becomes a member, the fraternity will help him with his studies and assist him when he takes the bar examinations. It was also mentioned that the law school dean is a fraternity brother.
With these enticements, Atio decided to attend the fraternity’s welcome ceremony last Sept. 16. He had his parents’ permission because of the feeling of reassurance engendered by the fact that the law school dean is a family friend. Atio promised his mom that he would be back the following day. He never came home.
Instead, Atio’s mom received an anonymous text message informing her that her son had been taken to a hospital. She was in utter shock when the hospital disclosed that her son’s body had already been brought to a funeral parlor.
Atio’s cadaver bore signs of the gruesome barbarity he suffered. Both his arms were bloated and colored blood-red because of horrible bruises. Cigarette burns and candle wax drippings were all over his body. Atio died because he suffered cardiac or respiratory arrest triggered by traumatic injuries.
The numerous deaths that result from hazing with appalling regularity highlight the disgustingly wrong culture that pervades fraternities. These organizations advertise themselves as nurturing values and morals that advance the betterment of their members. In reality, they foster grievously wrong values and pervert the morals of their members.
Notwithstanding a law (Republic Act No. 8094) that made hazing a crime 22 years ago, the barbaric practice continues. Old members feel shortchanged if new recruits obtain membership without going through the same physical suffering they endured.
At a time when it has become de rigueur for student organizations to encourage critical discussions and democratic decision-making, fraternities still follow a medieval culture of blind acceptance of the dictatorial decisions of their leaders.
Contrary to the expectations of recruits that their membership in fraternities will help them academically, fraternity culture puts roadblocks on their studies. Fraternity “rumbles” happen just before or during examination periods. And rumbles take place for the flimsiest of reasons, like courtship rivalry over girls, exchange of dagger looks, and other instances of a degenerative sense of machismo. Fraternity members who had nothing to do with the cause of friction get dragged into rumbles because of the herd-like mentality of “all for one, one for all” regardless of how foolish the reason for the squabble.
When fraternity members become political leaders, they exhibit a Mafia-like behavior of giving favors and preferences to their “brods.” Our national interest is constantly sacrificed because the sense of country and the perception of right and wrong of fraternity men in power are diluted or compromised by the private interests of their frat brothers. This is true of all fraternities, especially those from top schools like the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and, more recently, San Beda College.
Every fraternity is a brotherhood of barbarians.
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