Editor’s Note: This article contains movie spoilers.
By Lindsey Collins
1990 Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina — Kappa Sigma was starting their annual fall Rush Week. Let the week of binge drinking, strippers, sex and abuse begin.
Hazing in college fraternities and sororities has been notorious for decades in the U.S. There are countless stories of pledges facing physically and emotionally tolling tests in order to get a bid to their fraternity of choice. This experience “brings the group closer together;” after all they are brothers right?
Goat, directed by Andrew Neel, exposes fraternity hazing through the 1990’s events in Brad Land’s Goat: A Memoir. The film focuses on fraternity Kappa Sigma and the process each pledge, nicknamed “goats,” must endure to become a “brother.” Among the eager pledgees is 18-year-old Brad Land (Ben Schnetzer), younger brother to frat member Brett (Nick Jonas) and victim of a violent robbery.
The goats face both mental and physical abuse during the pledges’ “hell week.” Though some scenes portray stupid humor, such as forcing the boys to take care of a real live goat, others display disturbing tests and horrifying punishments.
On the first evening, Brad’s roommate Will is locked in a dog cage, soaked in alcohol and pee, and rolled in circles as punishment for spitting out alcohol after hours of binge drinking. Other events from the night include: pushups while drinking alcohol, starting physical fights between pledges and making each boy admit to being a “faggot that nobody loves” while naked in the basement of the frat house — and that’s just the first night.
The only member who seems to realize the sadistic connotations of these actions is Brett, who is triggered by his brother’s experience of being attacked. After one of the pledges dies of a heart attack, possibly induced by the physical abuse, Brett speaks out and gets the fraternity suspended for the rest of the year.
The University of Maryland was the first of a select five schools across the country that hosted a viewing of Goat and held a discussion with representives from HazingPrevention.Org as a part of National Hazing Prevention Week.
“Paramount allowed us to pick five schools,” executive director of HazingPrevention.Org, Emily Pualwan, said. “We wanted to pick schools that were really proactive in hazing prevention movements and UMD was a perfect fit for that.”
A majority of students who attended this event in Hoff Theatre at Stamp are involved in greek life themselves. Many agreed the movie was striking but did not think these horrors appeared in College Park Greek life.
“It really got its point across about how dangerous hazing is, but I think, for our campus, this is far fetched,” senior public health science major and Delta Phi Epsilon member Demi Varis said. “If it happens here, I don’t know about it.”
Regardless of whether hazing is a large issue on campus, many involved in Greek life came out in support.
“We aren’t required to go, but I really wanted to,” sophomore Alpha Xi Delta member Tess Simonson said. “I am really against hazing and people should see how bad it really is, and hopefully this changes the way they view hazing.”
Those involved in hazing prevention movement here hope this film leaves a lasting impression on each student who views it.
Pualwan concluded the event with her hopes for this university: “We saw it here tonight: the best way to prevent these things from escalating is through conversation. Students need to understand that if they stand up and do the right thing there are other students at their backs.”
Featured Photo Credit: Featured photo courtesy of Goat the Movie’s Facebook page.
Lindsey Collins is a freshman multiplatform journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.