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Hazing Case Study: The Monkey Experiment

posted Jan 28, 2012, 1:02 PM by Nick Ludwig   [ updated Jan 28, 2012, 1:03 PM ]

40 years of Associate Membership
Hazing is an issue. Recent occurrences on college campuses have shown that hazing is a serious issue for fraternities and sororities, but also many other student organizations. Where does hazing come from? What causes the cancerous nature of cyclical hazing practices within a group of students who say they're committed to living a life of values?

This hypothetical experiment is meant to show how the cruel and pointless tradition of hazing can begin. This story has been adopted from multiple sources.

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result - all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when a monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it. Continue this process until no monkeys make an attempt to get the banana.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm, even though it has no idea why!

Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, every monkey that goes towards the bananas is attacked until it no longer attempts to reach the banana. Why? Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been done around here.

And that's how hazing takes root.

Lambda Chi Alpha is fully committed to taking a stand against hazing. Forty years ago, Lambda Chi Alpha was the first fraternity to abolish pledging. In 1972, Lambda Chi Alpha introduced the concept of fraternity education and the role of an Associate Member (AM). An Associate Member has full rights of membership within the organization, including the right to vote, hold office, and represent the insignia of the fraternity.