Honolulu Star-Bulletin Local News
School initiations
examined for harm

After recent reports of hazing,
the Board of Education considers a policy

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Hazing. By definition, it is initiating or disciplining students or others "by forcing them to do ridiculous, humiliating or painful things."

Some members of the state Board of Education say such initiation rituals serve no purpose and want to regulate the practice because of recent incidents at Kalaheo and Aiea high school sports programs.

Tomorrow afternoon, the board's student services committee will discuss the issue at a 4 p.m. meeting.

At Kalaheo, freshmen members of the girl's soccer team were told to run around the football field in their

undergarments. Two coaches were suspended for the season.

At Aiea, six boys were arrested for allegedly assaulting a soccer team member who refused to participate in a soccer team initiation.

Winston Sakurai, member of student services committee, acknowledges that there is a difference between hazing and initiation rites which he describes as rituals that "honors a student."

He believes hazing is "anything that is deeming and embarrass a student in front of his or her peers."

Although Sakurai, who favors a policy defining activities which are not acceptable, said that there is "gap between board members."

Some board members such as Lex Brodie questioned whether such a policy is needed and that the board maybe overreacting to recent incidents.

"It's been going on for years," Brodie said. "I want to know what has happened in the past and what we did on those occasions and how did we handle them.... I feel very strongly that we are not doing our job if we want to rule on everything that comes along."

In the military, hazing is not tolerated because it can be "physically harmful, psychologically abusive, or demeaning."

"Hazing often signals to people they are in and other people are out," says University of Hawaii sociology professor David Chandler.

Chandler said the need for groups to set themselves apart by wearing uniforms or by initiating or hazing new members seems "built into our society."

And it isn't always as brutal as depicted in the Marine Corps pin-pounding incident.

A dozen Marines were involved in hazing incidents that were videotaped in 1991 and 1993. In ane incident golden jump wings were pounded in the chests of other Marines in North Carolina, causing some to bleed and writhe in pain.

"I remember when I was 15 and starting my first job as a mechanic," Chandler added. "I was sent out to get a left-handed monkey wrench. When I came back, they would all point at me and laughed and I would be embarrassed ... Hopefully, in most cases hazing is harmless except to your ego."

Chandler said that in the military, hazing could be viewed as a rite of passage.

Despite repeated efforts to stamp out such rites, they persist.

There are no written guidelines that spell out what kind of hazing is permitted in the military. Individual services police themselves using other sanctions outlined in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Jon Yoshishige, Pacific Fleet spokesman, said Secretary of the Navy John Dalton in 1993 ordered the elimination of hazing, which is defined as anything that subjects a person to "physical or emotional abuse, harassment or ridicule."

Yoshishige said Navy commanders are instructed "to take quick action, to fairly investigate and if individuals are found guilty, then they will be appropriately punished."

Retired Gen. C.E. Mundy, former Marine Corps commandant, has said initiation traditions that celebrate accomplishment are valuable. But when those traditions go against the fundamental values of respect and care for one another, they are inappropriate.

Marines at Kaneohe Marine Corps Base seem to agree.

Sgt. Clifford Wiggins, who was a Marine Corps senior drill instructor, said "there's no place in the Marine Corps for humiliating or degrading anyone. Marines passed their rite of passage when they graduated from boot camp, be it Parris Island or San Diego."

Second Lt. J.R. Lowe added that he doesn't allow it in his platoon. "It isn't allowed because it's degrading," said Lowe, and because it is against Marine Corps orders.

Chandler also said that better communications today, such as the recent television broadcast of the pinning ceremonies of Marine Corps paratroopers, give the public insights to what only a few may have been aware of in the past.

In some cases, the soldiers or sailors or Marines may have willingly participated in these ceremonies because "the members know that it is a signal of membership," Chandler said.

Last month, Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, promised new guidelines that would not only spell out what activities are prohibited, but what steps should be taken to investigate illegal activities.

Chandler questions whether such policies could prevent future incidents.

"If the men and women in the military have grown up with that kind of system," Chandler said, "they probably understood it. They survived it. They see that it has some benefit to morale ... 'esprit de corps' as they say. It's a powerful way to bond together. They may be less inclined to regulate it internally."

Military branches outlaw
‘traditions’ of promotion

By Gregg K. Kakesako

The Army's Training and Doctrine Command strictly forbids hazing at any airborne, ranger or jump schools, according to a 25th Infantry Division spokeswoman.

Lee Ferguson, Schofield Barracks spokeswoman, said: "The Army reports that there have been no indications of hazing except in very isolated incidents."

One of these "isolated cases" occurred in 1995. Last August the commander of the Army's XVIII Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C., was forced to issue letters of reprimand to three officers who oversaw fraternity-style hazing activities that included giving officers electrical shocks.

The activities involved three 1995 "prop blast" ceremonies -- an Army airborne tradition that takes its name from the blast that original paratroopers felt from the propellers as they jumped from C-47 aircraft.

Since then all "prop blast" initiation ceremonies have been suspended for the XVIII Corps.

The corps also now has a policy specifically stating that the soldiers cannot be shocked, made to wear lipstick or have food products placed on them.

During the 1995 incident, patches were ripped off soldiers' uniforms, ketchup and raw eggs were smeared on uniforms, soldiers had to wear lipstick as camouflage, and some inductees were forced to hang a dead fish from their necks for 24 hours.

Besides the pinning on of "blood wings," the Marine Corps has other examples of what it considers "ill-conceived rituals mistakenly viewed as traditions," according to a 1995 memorandum from the Marine Corps Inspector General's office.

These include "drinking for wings" where a Marine aviator celebrates the awarding of his or her golden pilot's wings, which have been dropped to the bottom of a beer mug. The new aviator has to chug the beer and catch the insignia with his or her teeth.

Another unacceptable practice is called "nailing on blood stripes" where a Marine Corps corporal upon promotion gets whacked on the leg. This is in line with the sewing on of the red stripe on the Marine's dress blue trousers.

In the Navy, other outlawed tacking-on ceremonies include "tacking on a crow," where a petty officer's promotion is celebrated by his or her shipmates with a healthy punch on the arm to "tack on" the new chevrons.

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