Metrofocus: September 12, 2022

THE CULTURE OF HAZING

There has been at least one hazing related death in the United States every year since 1959, including two in New York State in 2019.  Despite hazing being illegal in 44 states- approximately 55 percent of college students who participate in clubs, teams, and campus organizations experience it.  A new Independent Lens documentary titled, “Hazing” takes an in-depth look inside the culture and consequences of pledging rituals at American educational institutions. Joining us to discuss the film are:  the director, Byron Hurt; and James Vivenzio, a hazing survivor who is featured in the documentary.

For more information on “Hazing,” or other Independent Lens films, click here.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, A DISTURBING GLIMPSE AT DEADLY HAZINGS ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES.

A NEW PBS DOCUMENTARY REVEALS WHAT THESE ABUSIVE RITUALS REVEAL.

THE PUSH TO END HAZING.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

EVERY YEAR FROM 1959 TO 2021 THERE'S BEEN AT LEAST ONE HAZING-RELATED DEATH IN THE UNITED STATES.

INCLUDING TWO IN NEW YORK IN 2019.

DESPITE BEING ILLEGAL IN 44 STATES IT CONTINUES TO BE A WIDESPREAD PROBLEM ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES.

APPROXIMATELY 55% OF COLLEGE STUDENT WHO IS PARTICIPATE IN CLUBS, TEAMS AND CAMPUS ORGANIZATIONS CLAIMS THAT THEY HAVE BEEN THE VICTIMS OF HAZING.

A NEW DOCUMENTARY TITLED 'HAZING' TAKES AIN-DEPTH LOOK INSIDE THE CULTURE AND CONSEQUENCES OF PLEDGING RITUALS AT AMERICAN EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS.

THE FILM IS MAKING ITS TELEVISION DEBUT ON PBS AS THE OPENER FOR THE NEW SEASON OF 'INDEPENDENT LENS'. TAKE A LOOK.

I LOVE BEING IN A GREEK LETTER ORGANIZATION.

IT'S THE VIBRANT COMMUNITY.

BUT MEMBERSHIP CAN COME AT A HEAVY COST.

WE WERE TAKING WELL OVER 100 STROKE OVER NIGHT.

PUSHUPS.

CHUG UNTIL YOU THROW UP.

IT'S PEER PRESSURE IN ITS RAWEST FORM.

I DIDN'T WANT TO LET MY PLEDGE SISTERS DOWN.

YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE TO DIE TO BELONG.

IT'S A SILENCE THAT ENDS IN AN ACT OF BETRAYAL.

JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THIS IMPACTFUL NEW FILM AND DISCUSS THE REASONS WHY WE CONTINUE TO SEE HAZING EXIST AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT IS, BYRON, THE DIRECTOR OF THE DOCUMENTARY, THE BROTHER OF THE OMEGA PHI PSI.

GENTLEMAN, THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU.

BYRON, LET ME START WITH YOU AS THE DIRECTOR.

FIRST OF ALL, AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, IT'S AN IMPACTFUL FILM.

IT MAKES YOU THINK, PUSHES ISSUES, IT'S A JOBBINGTIVE.

YOU DID A WOULD FEEL JOB DOING THAT.

THANK YOU.

I'M ALWAYS CURIOUS HOW FILMMAKERS START THEIR FILMS.

I'M STRUCK BUT YOU OPENING THE FILM WITH A QUOTE.

IT'S FROM JAMES BALDWIN IN WHICH HE SAID, THE ROLE OF THE ARTIST IS EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE ROLE OF THE LOVER.

IF I LOVE YOU, I HAVE TO MAKE YOU CONSCIOUS OF THE THINGS YOU DON'T SEE.

WHAT DOES THAT QUOTE MEAN TO YOU, AND WHY OPEN THIS FILM WITH IT?

WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I LOVE JAMES BALDWIN, AND THAT QUOTE REALLY SPOKE TO ME AS A SOCIAL ARTIST.

I CONSIDER MYSELF A SOCIAL ARTIST, SOMEONE WHO CREATES ART ABOUT SOCIAL ISSUES AND SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES.

AND, YOU KNOW, REALLY, I WANTED TO SET THE STAGE FOR THIS FILM, THAT THIS FILM WAS BEING TOLD BY SOMEONE WHO WAS AN INSIDER, NOT SOMEONE WHO WAS CRITIQUING THIS HAZING CULTURE FROM THE OUTSIDE, BUT FROM WITHIN.

AND NOT IN A WAY TO TEAR ORGANIZATIONS DOWN OR TEAR PEOPLE DOWN, BUT AS A WAY TO SHED LIGHT ON AN ISSUE THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED THAT SOME PEOPLE ARE IN DENIAL OF AND SOME PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO SEE OR TALK ABOUT PUBLICLY.

AND SO BECAUSE THIS IS A FILM AND A FILM IS VERY PUBLIC BY DEFINITION, I WANTED TO, YOU KNOW, START OUT WITH THAT JAMES BALDWIN QUOTE BECAUSE I THOUGHT IT WAS A PERFECT WAY TO ENTER THE FILM.

YEAH.

LET'S TALK ABOUT BOTH OF YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES.

BECAUSE CERTAINLY YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES FRAME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THESE ISSUES AND WHAT YOU'VE DONE ABOUT THESE ISSUES.

AGAIN, BYRON I'LL START WITH YOU IF I MIGHT AND JAMES I'M COME TO YOU.

SO, TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WITH HAZING.

WELL, WHEN I WAS A YOUNG MAN, A SOPHOMORE IN COLLEGE, I DECIDED TO PURSUE AN ORGANIZATION THAT MY UNCLE WAS A MEMBER OF, OMEGA PSI PHI AND I DID SO BECAUSE OF ITS IDEALS AND WHAT IT STOOD FOR, THE PRINCIPLES OF THE ORGANIZATION.

AND SO, YOU KNOW, BECOMING A MEMBER OF THAT ORGANIZATION WAS A VERY DIFFICULT CHALLENGING ARDUOUS PROCESS, BACK IN 1990.

SO I PLEDGED 30 YEARS AGO NOW.

THAT PROCESS HAS CHANGED A LOT SINCE THEN, BUT THERE ARE STILL SOME THINGS, SOME ASPECT OF HAZING CULTURE THAT HAVE LINGERED, NOT JUST IN MY FRATERNITY, BUT THROUGHOUT THE GREEK SYSTEM AND EVEN OUTSIDE OF THE GREEK SYSTEM -- SPORTS CULTURE AND SO ON AND SO FORTH.

SO MY EXPERIENCE WAS THAT OF, YOU KNOW, WHAT YOU SEE IN THE FILM.

I MEAN, JUST FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE OF SOME PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL HAZING.

YOU KNOW, ABUSIVE HAZING THAT I ACCEPTED AT THE TIME BECAUSE I REALLY WANTED TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE ORGANIZATION.

AND SO I THINK THAT THAT EXPERIENCE FOR ME IS WHAT HAS HELPED ME TO CREATE THIS KIND OF FILM, A FILM THAT HAS SO MUCH DEPTH AND NUANCE TO IT, AND THAT FEELS VERY AUTHENTIC BECAUSE ME AS A STORY TELLER IS TELLING IT FROM THE LENS OF SOMEONE WHO'S BOTH EXPERIENCE IT AS SOMEONE WHO'S BEEN HAZED AND ALSO SOMEONE WHO HAS ALSO BEEN A PERPETRATOR OF HAZING AS WELL.

I WANT TO GET BACK TO YOU ABOUT THAT, BECAUSE I THINK THAT'S IMPORTANT, AND THAT IS, WHY DID YOU STAY AND WHAT DID YOU DO AFTERWARDS?

JAMES, YOUR STORY IS DIFFERENT, NOT IN TERM OF WHAT WAS HAPPENING BUCK HOW YOU REACTED TO IT.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES AND WHY YOU DECIDED TO WALK AWAY.

YEAH, ABSOLUTELY.

WELL, I DECIDED TO JOIN THE FRATERNITY BECAUSE I KNEW A LOT OF PEOPLE FROM MY HIGH SCHOOL THAT WERE A PART OF IT, AND IT KIND OF SEEMED LIKE A GREAT WAY TO MEET PEOPLE AT A MASSIVE SCHOOL OF 45,000 KIDS AT PENN STATE.

THAT KIND OF STARTED -- GOT THE BALL ROLLING, AND BEING -- GETTING A BID, TOO, WAS KIND OF A BIG DEAL.

ONLY I THINK 30 OR 20 BIDS WERE PUT OUT I THINK OF 1,000 STUDENTS GO TO THE HOUSE DURING RUSH.

SO THAT WAS A BIG DEAL AND SOMETHING THAT I DIDN'T TAKE WITH A GRAIN OF SALT.

AND I GUESS GOING THROUGH HAZING AS BYRON POINTED OUT, IT IS A VERY EMOTIONAL -- IT IS VERY MENTAL.

IT CAN BE PHYSICAL.

I DEFINITELY POINT OUT IN THE FILM AND GO INTO MORE DETAIL ABOUT WHAT I ENDURED.

BUT THE REASON I GUESS I SPOKE OUT WAS I WAS VERY AGAINST HAZING FROM THE BEGINNING OF ME SEARCHING FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO JOIN.

I CONFIDED IN MEMBERS THAT I KNEW FROM HIGH SCHOOL, AND ASKING, YOU KNOW, DOES HAZING STILL HAPPEN, OR IS IT JUST LEGEND OF THESE MOVIES WE WERE BROUGHT UP WATCHING?

I WAS TOLD IT REALLY DIDN'T HAPPEN.

PENN STATE HAD A MASSIVE ANTI-HAZING PROGRAM.

WE WERE REQUIRED TO GO TO THREE DAYS OF RUSH INFORMATION SEMINARS TO BETTER UNDERSTAND HOW ANTI-HAZING THIS UNIVERSITY IS.

AND SO THAT REALLY KIND OF GAVE ME CONFIDENCE TO JOIN, THAT I WASN'T GOING TO BE HAZED.

BUT ONCE THAT KIND OF QUICKLY -- THAT DREAM VANISHED THAT I WASN'T GOING TO BE HAZED, I STARTED TO SPEAK OUT.

AS I SAID, I WAS VERY AGAINST THIS FROM THE GET GO, AND I WENT TO THE UNIVERSITY THREE TIMES BEFORE THEY DECIDED TO DO ANYTHING.

AND YOU KNOW, THAT TO ME WAS REALLY TOUGH.

YOU KNOW, GOING THROUGH WHAT I WENT THROUGH, TRYING TO GO OUT AND GET HELP AND BEING TURNED AWAY, DURING THE PROCESS I WENT TO THE HAZING HOT LINE TRYING TO GET HELP AND MY HAZING ENDED UP GETTING WORSE.

MY EXPERIENCE WITH IT WAS PRETTY BAD, AND THAT IS WHY I SPOKE OUT AND WANTED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT TO MAKE SURE THAT ANOTHER STUDENT DIDN'T GO THROUGH WHAT I WENT THROUGH AND TO MAYBE SAFE ALIFE, WHICH WAS MY MAIN GOAL, TOO.

JAMES, WHAT WAS THE REACTION YOU GOT ON CAMPUS, AMONG FRIENDS, FRATERNITY WHEN YOU DECIDED, THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG ABOUT THIS, I'M GOING SPEAK OUT ABOUT THIS.

WHEN I FIRST DID IT THROUGH THE HOT LINE, IT WAS ANONYMOUS.

IMMEDIATELY THE TEXT MESSAGES WERE, WE HAVE A RAT IN THE FRATERNITY.

SOMEONE IS TELLING THE SCHOOL.

BECAUSE THE SCHOOL DID REACH OUT TO THE PRESIDENT AND TOLD THEM, WE GOT A REPORT THERE WAS SOME HAZING.

AND THAT WAS PRETTY MUCH THE EXTENT.

I FEEL LIKE THE UNIVERSITY COULD HAVE ABSOLUTELY DONE A LOT MORE TO STEP IN AND STOP IT.

ON CAMPUS, WHEN EVERYTHING WENT PUBLIC I DID WITHDRAW FROM PENN STATE.

AMONGST FRIENDS I LOST A LOT OF RELATIONSHIPS.

A LOT OF PEOPLE DIDN'T EXACTRY REACH OUT AFTER THE FACT THAT I HAD KNOWN BEFORE THE STORY WENT PUBLIC.

BUT I GAINED A LOT MORE -- A LOT BETTER FRIENDS, I GUESS YOU WOULD CALL IT.

GREAT PEOPLE THAT I WAS ABLE TO SURROUND MYSELF WITH THAT REALLY HELPED ME OUT THROUGH A TOUGH TIME IN MY LIFE GOING THROUGH EVERYTHING.

BYRON, LET ME COME BACK TO WHAT YOU MENTIONED.

YOU EXPLAIN THE REASONS WHY YOU WANTED TO DO THIS.

YOU WENT THROUGH ALL OF THIS.

AND THEN YOU BECAME A MEMBER, AND AS YOU SAID, YOU ENGAGED IN IT AFTERWARDS.

YEAH.

TELL ME ABOUT THE EVEOLUTION OF THAT THROUOUGHT PROCESS.

HOW DO YOU GO FROM BEING THE SUBJECT AND BEING CONCERNED ABOUT IT TO BEING THE ONE WHO WAS ESSENTIALLY NOW SUBJECTING OTHERS TO IT.

HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

WELL, YOU KNOW, AT THE TIME, JACK -- LISTENING TO JAMES, I DON'T THINK I WAS AS SELF-AWARE AS JAMES WAS, YOU KNOW, WHEN HE WAS A YOUNG MAN COMPARED TO MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

I JUST THINK THAT THERE WERE A LOT OF FACTORS THAT LED ME TO STIGMA THE PROCESS.

IT WAS A PROCESS THAT AT THAT TIME WAS NORMALIZED.

PEOPLE WENT THROUGH IT BEFORE YOU, AND SO YOU SORT OF SET IT IN YOUR MIND THAT, YOU KNOW, YOU HAD TO ACCOMPLISH WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WENT THROUGH IN ORDER TO BE AS VALUABLE AS THEY WERE, YOU KNOW, AS STRONG AS THEY WERE, AS CAPABLE AS THEY WERE.

SO THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS WHY I ENDURED AND IT STUCK WITH IT AND SAW IT THROUGH, BECAUSE ULTIMATELY WE WANTED TO BE A MEMBER OF THE ORGANIZATION.

AND EVEN THOUGH DURING MY PLEDGE PROCESS BACK THEN, I DID HAVE PROBLEMS WITH IT.

IT'S NOT LIKE I JUST ACCEPTED IT WITHOUT QUESTION.

I DID QUESTION IT.

BUT THERE'S SOMETHING THAT CLICKS ONCE YOU BECOME A MEMBER.

YOU KNOW, THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT THIS, YOU KNOW, FEELING LIKE YOU ARE EXCEPTIONAL ON SOME LEVEL.

YOU DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO JUST ENTER YOUR FRATERNITY WITHOUT GOING THROUGH SOME OF THE THINGS YOU EXPERIENCED AND WENT THROUGH.

YOU DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO GET IN EASILY, RIGHT, WHEN YOU HAD TO PAY SUCH A HIGH COST TO GET IN YOURSELF.

YOU KNOW?

SO I THINK, YOU KNOW, THAT'S SOME OF WHAT LED TO MY CHOICE TO CONTINUE TO PERPETUATE IT ONCE I BECAME A MEMBER.

BUT I WILL SAY THAT AS TIME WENT ON, I BECAME MORE AND MORE CRITICAL OF HAZING CULTURE, PARTICULARLY SOME OF THE REALLY HYPERMASCULINE ASPECTS OF IT.

YOU KNOW, JUST THE PHYSICAL VIOLENCE, THE EMOTIONAL ABUSE.

I STARTED TO LEARN THAT THIS WAS NOT ACCEPTABLE, THAT THIS WAS NOT COOL, RIGHT?

AND SO ONE THING THAT I TRIED TO DO IS JUST MODIFY MY OWN BEHAVIOR SO THAT I WAS NOT PARTICIPATING AT THE SAME LEVEL THAT OTHERS WERE PARTICIPATING IN IT.

BUT YOU KNOW, I WAS STILL -- I NEVER SPOKE OUT ABOUT IT IN THE WAY THAT JAMES DID, YOU KNOW, WHICH IS COMMENDABLE.

IT TAKES A LOT OF COURAGE TO SPEAK OUT.

YOU KNOW, IT TAKES A LOT OF COURAGE THE STAND UP IN THE FACE OF ALL OF THAT, YOU KNOW, SORT OF MASCULINE ENERGY.

YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

AND CONFRONT IT IN REALTIME.

SO I UNDERSTAND HOW DIFFICULT IT IS WHEN PEOPLE DON'T SPEAK OUT AGAINST IT.

YEAH.

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT, AND THE FILM MAKES THIS POINT, THAT IT'S NOT A CONDEMNATION OF GREEK SOCIETIES OR ORGANIZATIONS OR EVEN TEAMS.

AND JAMES, YOU TOUCHED BASE ON THIS -- JUST TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE VALUE.

PUT ASIDE THE HAZING PART.

IT'S A HARD THING TO DO, I UNDERSTAND.

AND TALK ABOUT THE VALUES THAT CAN BE GLEANED FROM MEMBERSHIP IN A FRATERNITY OR SORORITY CLUB OR ORGANIZATION.

YEAH, WELL, I THINK THERE ARE A LOT OF VALUE TO THEM, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU JUST LOOK AT HOW MANY VERY BIG PEOPLE IN OUR HISTORY HAVE COME FROM SORORITIES AND FRATERNITIES.

BUT I THINK TO YOU GET VALUE IN THE UNIVERSITY SENSE OF HELPING OTHER PEOPLE.

A LOT OF COMMUNITY HELP.

AT PENN STATE WORK HAD DANCE MARATHON WHERE IT'S RAISING MONEY FOR CHILDHOOD CANCER.

SO THERE'S A LOT OF THINGS THAT REALLY DO GO INTO FRATS THAT ARE GOOD, AND THAT'S WHY -- YOU DO BRING UP A GOOD POINT, YOU KNOW?

THERE IS KIND OF A STIGMA RELATED, FOR AT LEAST MY STORY THAT I AM KIND OF ANTI-GREEK LIFE.

AND I'M ANTI-HAZING.

THAT'S THE BIGGEST THING THAT I KIND OF WANT TO POINT OUT.

I THINK THERE ARE GREAT FRATERNITIES OUT THERE.

I'VE HEARD MANY STORIES OF THEM.

EN WHY, MY FRIENDS THAT HAVE GONE THROUGH THE PROCESS THAT WAS TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE PROCESS I WENT THROUGH, AND IT REALLY WAS BENEFICIAL TO THEM.

THEY MET GREAT FRIENDS, MADE GREAT RELATIONSHIPS.

BUT YOU ALWAYS HAVE THIS CLOUD OF HAZING JUST KIND OF HANGING OVER ALL THE GOOD THAT FRATS DO.

YOU KNOW, THAT'S WHAT I KIND OF WANT TO GET TO THE END OF, THIS HAZING AND WHY IT IS EVERYWHERE.

IT'S NOT JUST FRATERNITIES, AS WE TOUCH ON IN THE FILM.

IT'S LITERALLY EVERYWHERE.

IN OUR MILITARY, BANDS, SPORTS TEAMS, BUSINESS CULTURE.

IT'S JUST PERTINENT IN ALL WALKS OF LIFE.

THAT'S WHAT I'M TRYING TO FIGURE OUT IS, WHY IS IT EVERYWHERE?

SO THESE ORGANIZATIONS DON'T HAVE THIS CLOUD OVER THEM, SO THEY CAN ACHIEVE THEIR GREATEST POTENTIAL.

JAMES MAKES AN INTERESTING POINT YOU MAKE IN THE FILM, IT'S NOT JUST FRATERNITIES AND SORORITIES, IT'S THE MILITARY, IT'S BANDS AND THEATER AND SPORTS TEAMS.

IT IS SO PERVASIVE.

BYRON, ONE OF THE THINGS YOU DO TALK ABOUT IN THE FILM -- AND THIS IS -- IT'S ALWAYS PER PERPLEXING.

OFTENTIMES IN REACTION TO THESE HAZING STORIES, YOU SEE SORT OF A LACK OF SYMPATHY OR EMPATHY DIRECTED TOWARDS THE PEOPLE WHO ORDINARILY YOU'D CALL THEM VICTIMS.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?

WELL, JACK, I THINK ONE OF THE MAJOR REASONS WHY PEOPLE FAIL TO, YOU KNOW, HAVE EMPATHY FOR HAZING VICTIMS IS BECAUSE PEOPLE THINK THAT THESE ARE CHOICES YOUNG PEOPLE ARE MAKING.

PEOPLE ARE DECIDING TO JOIN AN ORGANIZATION, AND THEY KNOW WHAT THEY'RE GETTING INTO PRIOR TO JOINING, AND SO THIS IS WHAT THEY GET.

THIS IS WHAT THEY DESERVE.

AND ALSO PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE HAVE THE OPTION OF WALKING AWAY.

AND WHAT PEOPLE DON'T REALLY FULLY APPRECIATE AND UNDERSTAND IS THAT IT'S NOT THAT SIMPLE.

IT'S NOT AS EASY AS JUST WALKING AWAY.

YOU HEAR THAT KIND OF VICTIM-BLAMING WITH, LIKE, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS AND VICTIMS.

YOU KNOW, PEOPLE JUST ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT THE -- THE VICTIM OF THE ABUSE AS OPPOSED TO POINTING THE LENS ON THE ABUSER, THE VICTIMIZER IN THE SITUATION.

AND SO WE REALLY WORKED HARD TO TRY TO DEVELOP OUR PARTICIPANT STORIES SO YOU ACTUALLY FEEL FOR THEM.

YOU SEE THEM AS HUMAN BEINGS WHO WERE IN VERY DIFFICULT SITUATIONS AND WERE FACED WITH DIFFICULT CHOICES, WHO EXPLAIN THAT THE REASON WHY IS THEY MADE THE DECISION TO JOIN THE ORGANIZATION AND TO BE QUITE HONEST WITH YOU, A LOT OF THESE HAZING EXPERIENCES, THEY DON'T START OUT WITH, LIKE, REALLY ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR.

IT EVOLVES OVER TIME.

BEFORE TOO LONG YOU'RE DEEPLY INTO IT AND YOU HAVE TO MAKE A CHOICE TO, DO I CONTINUE AND GET OUT OF IT WHAT I SOUGHT?

OR AM I GOING TO QUIT IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS?

THOSE ARE THE DIFFICULT CHOICE PEOPLE HAVE THE MAKE.

I APPRECIATE WHAT JAMES SAYS, HE'S BRINGING IT OUTSIDE OF THE CONTEXT OF GREEK LIFE AND BRINGING IT OUTSIDE OF THE CONTEXT OF INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCES AND SAYING, THIS IS SOMETHING THAT'S HAPPENING NATIONALLY.

THIS IS SOMETHING THAT'S HAPPENING ACROSS THE COUNTRY IN VARIOUS SPACES, MYRIAD SPACES -- SPORTS, MILITARY, PERFORMANCE, BANDS, YOU KNOW, ACADEMIC CLUBS.

I MEAN, IT'S REALLY PREVALENT IN OUR SOCIETY, AND THAT'S WHAT MAKES ONE ASK THE QUESTION, WHAT'S GOING ON HERE CULTURALLY?

IT'S ALMOST AS IF IT'S BECOMING ENGRAIN IN THE OUR CULTURE, AND I THINK THAT'S THE POINT YOU MAKE, RIGHT?

RIGHT, AND SO I THINK THE SOLUTION IS CULTURAL CHANGE.

HOW DO YOU GET TO CULTURAL CHANGE?

WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THESE ISSUES, WHICH IS ONE REASON WHY I MADE THIS FILM, WHICH IS WHY I INCLUDE MY STORY.

I HOPE THAT OTHER PEOPLE WILL BE OPEN ENOUGH TO SHARE THEIR PERSONAL STORIES, RIGHT?

TO TALK ABOUT IT?

TO TALK ABOUT IT MORE.

AND THAT THIS FILM WILL BE SEEN AS AN EDUCATIONAL TOOL BUT ALSO AS AN ACT OF LEADERSHIP, RIGHT?

I MEAN, JAMES TELLING HIS STORY, HAVING THE COURAGE TO TELL HIS STORY, BRENT McCLANAHAN TELLING HIS STORY.

ALL THE PARTICIPANT WHO IS SHARE THEIR STORY WILL HOPEFULLY GIVE PEOPLE PER NATION TO TALK ABOUT THEIR STORIES.

ONE THING THAT'S WOVEN THROUGH THE STORIES IS THE PRESENCE OF ALCOHOL AND THE ROLE THAT ALCOHOL PLAYS IN THIS.

USING YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES AND WHAT YOU'VE LEARNED SINCE, TALK ABOUT THAT A LITTLE BIT.

YEAH, ABSOLUTELY.

ALCOHOL IS VERY PERVASIVE IN THE HAZING I EXPERIENCED.

I MEAN, JUST FROM THE START IT WAS PRETTY HEAVY.

I MEAN, VERY -- OBNOXIOUS AMOUNTS OF ALCOHOL WERE BEING CONSUMED AND BEING FORCIBLY CONSUMED BY THE PLEDGES DURING THE HAZING -- OR DURING THE PLEDGE PROCESS.

AND IT DEFINITELY DID EVOLVE.

DON'T GET ME WRONG, IT DEFINITELY STARTS OFF PRETTY HEAVY, BUT THE ALCOHOL HAZING DOES JUST KIND OF GET WORSE AND WORSE AND WORSE AND WORSE AS THE HAZING GOES ON, AND IT IS EVERYWHERE.

IT'S KIND OF ENGRAINED IN THE CULTURE AS THESE INSTITUTIONS.

I MEAN, I RARELY HAVE SPOKEN TO MEMBERS OF FRATERNITIES OR SURVIVORS OF HAZING THAT HAVE SAID, NO, NO ALCOHOL WAS NOT PRESENT IN OUR HAZING.

SO, THAT IS SOMETHING THAT, YOU KNOW, KIND OF OPENED UP MY EYES IS THE AMOUNT OF ALCOHOL AND WHAT THAT DOES TO YOUR MIND AND THE THOUGHT PROCESS, THAT WAS THE WORST, THE HAZING WHEN THE BROTHERS WERE VERY, VERY DRUNK WAS THE WORST HAZING YOU WOULD EVER EXPERIENCE.

AND IT WOULD HAPPEN VERY LATE AT NIGHT, AND THE BROTHERS SOMETIMES WOULDN'T REMEMBER IT THE NEXT MORNING, BUT I MEAN, THAT WAS THE WORST HAZING.

THAT WAS COMING FROM ALREADY DRUNK BROTHERS.

IT WAS -- IT'S PERVASIVE.

IT'S EVERYWHERE.

BYRON --

CAN I JUST SAY QUICKLY?

SORRY.

GO AHEAD.

I JUST WANT TO FOLLOW THAT UP BY SAYING, IF YOU NOTICE IN THE FILM, WE MAKE SOME RACIAL DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN, YOU KNOW, BLACK FRATERNITIES AND SORORITIES.

BYRON, I WAS JUST GOING TO ASK YOU.

TALK ABOUT THOSE DISTINCTIONS.

JAMES' EXPERIENCE IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM MY EXPERIENCE, AND JAMES PLEDGED, YOU KNOW, A PREDOMINANTLY WHITE ORGANIZATION.

I PLEDGED A PREDOMINANTLY BLACK ORGANIZATION, AND THERE ARE SOME CULTURAL DISTINCTIONS TO BE MADE THERE.

ALCOHOL WAS NOT A VERY BIG PART OF MY EXPERIENCE, AND I DON'T BELIEVE IT'S A BIG PART OF THE EXPERIENCE OF MEMBERS OF -- OR PEOPLE WHO PLEDGE BLACK GREEK LETTER ORGANIZATIONS.

THERE TENDS TO BE MORE PHYSICAL EXERTION, PHYSICAL SVIOLENCE, EMOTIONAL ABUSE AND THAT SORT OF THING IN BLACK GREEK LETTER ORGANIZATIONS THAN THERE ARE IN WHITE GREEK LETTER ORGANIZATIONS, BASED ON OUR RESEARCH, BASED ON THE EXPERTS WE HAVE SPOKEN TO, THAT SEEMS TO BE PRETTY CLEAR.

WHY THAT IS -- WE TALK ABOUT THAT IN THE FILM.

BUT, YOU KNOW, IT'S IMPORTANT IN MY OPINION TO MAKE THOSE RACIAL DISTINCTIONS BECAUSE THEN WE CAN ADEQUATELY ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS APPROPRIATELY.

YOU CAN'T -- YOU CAN'T -- YOU CAN'T -- THIS IS NOT A ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL TYPE OF SITUATION.

YOU HAVE TO APPROACH EACH DIFFERENT GROUP OR ORGANIZATION DIFFERENTLY BASED ON HOW THEY'RE EXPERIENCING HAZING CULTURE.

SO FOR ME AS A DIRECTOR IT WAS IMPORTANT TO MAKE THOSE DISTINCTIONS, NOT TO MAKE ORGANIZATIONS SEEM SO DIFFERENT FROM ONE ANOTHER BUT TO SAY, THERE ARE SOME DISTINCTIONS AND NUANCES THAT NEED TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED AND RECOGNIZED.

HOW ABOUT WITH REGARD TO SORORITIES, BYRON?

WHAT DID YOU SEE IN TERMS OF DISTINCTIONS?

THAT IT'S MORE EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL.

MORE ABOUT SEXUAL DEGRADATION, YOU KNOW, EMOTIONAL ABUSE MORE SO THAN IT IS PHYSICAL.

I MEAN, YOU KNOW, WHAT WE SEE IN FRATERNITIES REGARDLESS OF RACE IS MORE PHYSICAL PUNISHMENT.

WE SEE MORE DEATHS AMONG WHITE GREEK LETTER ORGANIZATIONS, PARTICULARLY WHITE MALE GREEK ORGANIZATIONS OR FRATERNITIES.

AND SO WHAT I HAVE BEEN SEEING RECENTLY OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS ARE A LOT OF ALCOHOL DEATHS, AS JAMES POINTED TO, A LOT OF YOUNG MEN WHO ARE FORCED TO DRINK ALCOHOL AND THEN FORCED TO WALK DOWN A FLIGHT OF STAIRS.

THEY FALL, THEY HAVE SOME SORT OF TRAGIC ACCIDENT AS A RESULT OF THE INTOXICATION AND THAT'S WHAT LEADS TO THE DEATH.

THAT IS SOMETHING THAT'S DISTINCT AND DIFFERENT FROM BLACK GREEK LETTER ORGANIZATIONS.

MY UNDERSTANDING IS WITH BLACK GREEK LETTER ORGANIZATIONS IT'S USUALLY THE RESULT OF SOME SORT OF PHYSICAL EXERTION, SOME HEART ISSUE.

THERE'S A LOT OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION, SO YOU SEE CAR CRASHES, PEOPLE DYING OF -- GETTING INTO CAR CRASHES AND THAT SORT OF THING.

SO THERE ARE VERY DISTINCT, UNIQUE DIFFERENCES.

GOT ABOUT TWO MINUTES LEFT.

LET ME ASK YOU EACH THE SAME QUESTION.

JAMES, YOU FIRST.

WHAT DO YOU SAY -- IF SOMEBODY WATCHES THIS FILM AND THEY RECOGNIZE YOU SOME PLACE, AND SAY, I'M ABOUT TO START AS A FIRST YEAR AT PENN STATE OR SOME OTHER PLACE, AND I'M THINKING ABOUT PLEDGING.

WHAT DO YOU THINK, SHOULD I?

WHAT'S YOUR RESPONSE TO THEM TODAY?

THAT'S A VERY GOOD QUESTION.

IT'S REALLY TOUGH FOR ME.

TO ME IT KIND OF VARIES A LITTLE BIT AS WELL FROM INSTITUTION TO INSTITUTION.

THERE ARE SOME INSTITUTIONS THAT HAVE A REALLY GREAT TRACK RECORD WHEN IT COMES TO KEEPING FRATERNITIES STRICTLY IN LINE, KEEPING SORORITIES IN LINE AND GIVING A SAFE ATMOSPHERE FOR THESE ORGANIZATIONS TO EXIST.

THERE ARE OTHERS THAT ARE A LOT WORSE.

IF A STUDENT WAS GOING TO PENN STATE TODAY, AFTER MY EXPERIENCE I'D TRY TO SHY THEM AWAY FROM EVER JOINING A FRATERNITY BASED ON WHAT I WENT THROUGH THERE.

I'VE NEVER, EVER TOLD MACHINE TO GO OUT AND JOIN A FRATERNITY AFTER WHAT I WENT THROUGH.

I WILL BE HONEST AND SAY THAT.

AYE NEVER TOLD ANYBODY NOT TO.

I SHARE MY EXPERIENCE AND LET THE PERSON MAKE THEIR DECISION.

BYRON, I'VE GOT A MINUTE HERE.

THIS IS A BIGGER VERSION A THAT QUESTION.

WHAT'S THE MESSAGE FROM THIS PEOPLE?

WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO TAKE AWAY FROM IT?

I WANT TO CREATE AWARENESS.

I WANT IT TO BE USED AS A TOOL FOR EDUCATION AND TRANSFORMATION.

I WANT PEOPLE TO USE IT AS A DISCUSSION STARTER TO BECOME MORE INFORMED, AWARE ABOUT HAZING IN GENERAL, AND WHAT SOME OF THE DISTINCTIONS AND CULTURAL NUANCES ARE.

BUT I ALSO WANT THIS FILM TO BE USED AS A -- AS A WAY TO HELP CHANGE THE CULTURE.

I KNOW THERE ARE A LOT OF ORGANIZATIONS, GREEK LETTER ORGANIZATIONS OR NOT, THAT ARE TRYING TO ERADICATE HAZING CULTURE WITHIN THEIR ORGANIZATIONS BUT THEY'RE HAVING A DIFFICULT TIME OF THE MEMBERS LETTING GO OF SOME OF THOSE TRADITIONS, AND HOPEFULLY THIS FILM WILL HELP SMOOTH THAT PROCESS OUT A LITTLE BIT AND WILL BE USED, YOU KNOW, BY THESE ORGANIZATIONS TO HELP GENERATE A LOT OF AWARENESS.

WELL, IT'S AN IMPORTANT FILM.

AS I SAID AT THE VERY BEGINNING IT'S IMPACTFUL.

IT TEACHES US, WHICH IS IMPORTANT AS A DOCUMENTARY, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY IT MAKES US THINK.

IT'S ONCE AGAIN CALLED' HAZING'. CHECK YOUR LOCAL PBS LISTINGS.

IT'S WORTH YOUR WATCHING.

BYRON, GREAT WORK AND JAMES, GREAT WORK BY YOU AND HAVING THE COURAGE TO STEP FORWARD AND TATALK ABOUT THIS.

GENTLEMAN, THANK YOU.

BE WELL NOW.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

>

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

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