Initiation at Bethel? It’s a little hazy.

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A look at freshmen initiations and Bethel’s hazing policies.

By Brianna Shaw | Staff Writer

Bodien resident assistant Madison Chau and her fellow RA’s slip away from the freshmen gathered in the dorm lobby. A PowerPoint plays, describing Bodien’s rules while the RA’s hastily put on black clothes and swim caps and lather themselves in blue paint as if it were lotion. Once they are completely covered in blue, they wait outside for the freshmen to finish the PowerPoint. Following strict directions from their RA staff, the freshmen pour outside in a single-file line, dead silent. Dorm initiation was right at their doorstep, and the freshmen didn’t have a clue what was about to happen.

“I was very confused,” freshman Katie Sandquist said.

All of the Bodien freshmen were handed a piece of bubble gum and told to stand in a circle around their RA’s. The RA’s commanded them to chew it while Chau and the other RA’s did an interpretive dance within the circle. Once the bubble gum was slick and malleable with saliva, the RA’s signaled the freshmen to take the gum out of their mouths and put it in their hands. Gathering each piece, they squashed the gum together, forming a giant object resembling a brain.

“It’s an experience that involves everyone,” freshman Maia Davidson said. “But I don’t know the significance.”

Initiations took place all over Freshmen Hill Thursday night. Getsch had a “kiss the watermelon then eat it” ritual, and Edgren poured a fluorescent mixture of water and glow stick fluid on their RA’s heads.

“Dorm Initiations can be weird, but it gives students something to talk about,” Chau said. “I could see them bonding over their confusion and fear over what was happening.”

Though most dorm initiations are harmless and purely for entertainment, some floor initiations go further than that. Some floor initiations in the past have included streaking across the football field and even branding their floor name onto their bodies, an Edgren tradition.

Though many view these initiation activities as merely traditions, the line becomes blurry between what is tradition and what is hazing. Bethel’s policy about hazing can be found in the student handbook. Their definition of hazing is, “committing an act against a student, or coercing a student into committing an act, that creates a substantial risk of harm to a person, in order for the student to be initiated into or affiliated with a student organization. Minnesota Hazing Law, Section 121A.69, Sub. 1 (a)).”

It’s also mentioned that acts like this will not be tolerated on the Bethel campus, and their punishments could include loss of funding, dismissal, suspension, loss of privileges and probation. They will even go as far as contacting local authorities if deemed necessary.

Though it’s important to control the intensity of initiation ceremonies, historically the Bethel community has come away bonded more than bruised. For now, traditions remain just that: traditions.

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