Fraternity Drinking Ritual


At Louisiana State University 10 Phi Delta Theta fraternity members were arrested because of the death of an 18-year-old freshman Maxwell Gruver. Two students took Mr. Gruver to the hospital were he was pronounced dead with an alcohol content of .496% which is 6 times the legal limit. He died due to vomit that was in his lungs referred to as “acute ethanol intoxication with aspiration”. According to the article the Fraternity members sent a text to the pledges demanding that they come to the chapter house for a bible study on September 13, 2017.  Bible study is when pledges are forced to drink a “pull” from an alcohol bottle when they give the wrong answer to a question. Up to 20 pledges arrived to the chapter house for Bible study.  The pledges were ordered into a dark room with a strobe light flashing, and music blasting. The pledges were told to put their noses and toes’ against the wall. One member told the police that Maxwell messed up frequently on the Greek alphabet and that one of the fraternity members Mr. Naquin forced him to drink every time. According to another member he mentioned that he told Mr. Naquin he was being to aggressive and that he should “cut it out”. Another member came forward stating that he believed Maxwell was targeted because he was often late to fraternity events. The police concluded that out of all members Mr. Naquin was responsible for the hazing event because he was the most aggressive out of all other members. The police charged Mr. Naquin with a felony charge of negligent homicide and a misdemeanor charge of hazing. The other members are being charged with misdemeanor of hazing. The case is still on going while police and investigators collect more evidence. The school temporarily closed Greek activities, but on October 4, they were allowed to resume activities with new enforced limits with a task force. The article goes on to talk about other similar reports of deaths because of hazing and drinking rituals at Pennsylvania, and Baruch College.

Culture is a group that shares common ideas, behaviors, attitudes, and traditions. Each culture has norms which are social expectations for the way people of that group should act. In this case the university is a culture which comes along with its own norms and expectations. Greek life norms definitely has a role in this situation. Every university has fraternity’s and sorority’s and it’s the norm in the university to join a fraternity and sorority. Having life long friends, being a life long member, attending and throwing activities and events, and partying are all expectations and norms of joining Greek life. Maxwell Gruver along with the other 19 pledgers wanted to be apart of this cultural experience, Gruver attended “bible study” and kept drinking when he gave a wrong answer because he wanted so badly to be apart of this Greek life and participated in it because it is a norm associated with Greek life.

The concept of conformity can also be seen in this article. Conformity happens when an individual feels the pressure of others which result in the individual changing their behavior or beliefs. Maxwell Gruver stood against the wall along side 19 other pledgers, he had 10 members demanding them all to answer questions. Gruver was under the pressure of his peers and future fraternity, he could have chosen to walk away or not to drink but instead he went along with the “bible study” because of the others. Group size also plays a huge part in this situation. It has been proven that when there is 4 or more people it will influence a person’s behavior and the individual is more likely to conform with others. The fraternity group which consisted of 10 individual members and the other 20 individuals’ pledgers were all in the situation. The pledges were going along with what other pledges were doing because they didn’t want to back out and not become a member of the fraternity. The members of the fraternity went along with the process of hazing and demanding individuals to drink even if some new it was wrong to do. This is all because of how big the group was and the influences from others.

Obedience is when an individual complies with another person’s authority and this concept can be seen in this situation. Gruver already had the expectations that joining Greek life which consist of having to go through a “ritual and rush period” in this case a hazing period which forced individuals to do things such as obeying the other members, drinking, and studying the history of the fraternity. Gruver was obeying the members and agreeing to a small commitment by coming to bible study. This also represents the foot in the door phenomenon which is when an individual first agrees to a small or modest request which leads to agreeing to larger request. Gruver knew he wanted to be apart of Greek life, he was chosen by the fraternity to go through the rush period before becoming a member. Gruver has already committed to this fraternity so showing up to the “bible study” could be considered a small request, he than is demanded to answer questions and drink when he gives the wrong answer which can be considered the “big request”. Gruver agrees to drinking and therefore resulted in his obedience. If Gruver was not interested in Greek Life or was sent a text that said come stand on a wall and answer questions and if you give the wrong answer you will be forced to drink, Gruver would probably be more inclined to deny the request because he hasn’t made any minor commitment yet.

-Nikki Jock

References:

Saul, S. (2017, October 11). 10 Arrested in Death of L.S.U Student After Fraternity    Drinking Ritual. Retrieved November 02, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/11/us/lsu-hazing-arrests.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FHazing&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=collection

Myers, D. G. (2012). Exploring social psychology (seventh ed.). New York:     McGraw-Hill.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Fraternity Drinking Ritual”

  1. This is a great post because you were able to use a lot of concepts and explain how they tie in to one another. A concept that I thought of while reading this blog post was gender roles. Males more often do larger group activities and often focus on tasks and on connections with large groups (fraternity). Males are expected to be strong and not very emotional so this could apply to how Maxwell didn’t back out of drinking because the act of quitting and being seen as “weak” would’ve gone against his gender role.

    – Hilary C.

  2. This was really well written and you did a great job explaining the concept of obedience and conformity. Another concept that came to mind while reading your post was the idea of deindividuation. This is when l in a group situation, people often abandon their normal behavioral restraints, forget their individual identity, become responsive to the group or crowd norms. I think this concept is applicable to both the men performing the hazing and the ones being hazed. In the context of the situation, people are often caught up in what is happening and forget their normal limitations. I am not sure if this was directly mentioned in the article, but certain Greek organizations will actually nickname their pledges rather than call them by name. This may be, in part, the act of depersonalizing. This is also applicable as it has been proven that people generally find it easier to be cruel to someone who is physically distant or else depersonalized.

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