Bullying at college / university

1 in 5 college students report being current victims of bullying and over 50% have experienced some form of hazing.

Source: University at Buffalo, Bullying on College Campuses.

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Josef Lind
June 12, 2022 5:29 am

Bullying has this way of making you think it’s you against the world. Not at all. The 20% stat above shows that it’s a problem many people deal with. Also it can happen to people you wouldn’t expect it to happen to. Look at The Rock, Dwayne Johnson. Here’s a guy that was 6’5, 235lbs during his freshman year at the University of Miami and he too was worried about being bullied. In his 1999 book “The Rock Says”, he writes about the fear of being a freshman athlete in the Miami Hurricanes football team:

The upperclassmen would be in one corner of the locker room, and the freshmen would be huddled in another, praying that they wouldn’t be the target of any jokes or pranks.

He also writes about how he had some good fortune in being friends with Russell Maryland: the best lineman in college football at the time, the 1st overall pick in the 1991 NFL draft, future college hall-of-famer and future 3 time Super Bowl winner. A powerful friend to have in your corner.

Fortunately, I had Russell on my side. Russell commanded tremendous respect. Everyone in the locker room turned to him for leadership and advice. If Russell said you were all right, then you were all right. In Russell’s eyes, thank God, I was all right.

This is a powerful admission by the Rock, a larger-than-life character that is often portrayed as being strong, confident and self-assured. Bullying isn’t a you-against-the-world phenomenon. The Rock also talks about people like Bret Hart and The Undertaker, wrestlers who would spend time with The Rock when he was a rookie and susceptible to being ribbed by the rest of the locker room. Fortunately society is coming to terms with the harms of bullying and it is becoming more unacceptable in schools, workplaces and social groups.

Dwayne Johnson Miami Hurricanes.PNG
June 13, 2022 8:23 am

Bullying is very revealing of people around you. It is a circumstance where you can find true integrity. People who are willing to go against the crowd and call out inappropriate behavior. People who value doing what’s right instead of riding the immoral wave of excitement from putting people down. I can count people like this on the fingers of my hand.

I’m ashamed to say I’m not of these people. Before I had enough self-respect to stand up for people being bullied, I’d join the crowd. Comfort in numbers, right? I’ve tried to change because it’s not right but also because I think passive contributors are some of the worst types of people. They aren’t actively bullying as the main aggressor and they are exonerated from blame when in fact they instigate and prod the situation to become worse.

I think the turning point came when I watched a YouTube video about a guy who had parked in a disabled spot. It was in some South American city and the channel was some kind of prank channel. Instead of giving the guy a parking ticket and fine, the channel plastered the guy’s car with tickets from top to bottom. When the guy came back to his car, a crowd had gathered and all were jeering at him for the mistake he’d made.

I looked at the people in the crowd relishing in the guy’s embarrassment and discomfort. Yes, he’d made a mistake and should be fined/punished for it. But what else do we know about him? He could be a good guy. Maybe not. We just don’t know. As I looked at the people jeering in the crowd, I thought, how many of them would be so accusatory and fiery if they were by themselves? These people were cowards. A mob gone wild, shouting and jeering at a guy because they were protected by the crowd around them. I didn’t want to be one of these people. I’ve tried hard to change and hope I can become the person I want to be.

As I said at the beginning of this post, bullying is revealing. If people you call ‘friends’ don’t have your back, are they really your friends? And bullies themselves, stopbullying.gov says it best:

Comments from a hater are a reflection of them and aren’t really about you. People who feel good about themselves don’t need to put others down.

Devin Graff
June 13, 2022 11:16 am

The sad thing about this is bullies at college could be using their energy in other productive pursuits. However as already referenced by other posters here, the actions of bullies are often a reflection of their own problems and insecurities. I’m glad bullies get a bad rap and are ostracize in society. In some ways they may have been celebrated in our culture. While many TV shows had bullies getting their comeuppance, who remembers the loveable bully Roger Klotz in the legendary cartoon, Doug? Nelson Muntz from The Simpsons was another bully that we took a liking too. He caused all kinds of problems for Bart, as did Jimbo Jones and his cronies. Although Nelson was the quintessential bully, we fell in love with his “Ha ha!” and he became a highly popular character. Bullies have surprisingly been featured positively in our entertainment culture.

We have to remember that bullies have a choice. I’m reminded of the words of Hyeonseo Lee, a North Korean defector, in her book The Girl With Seven Names: Escape from North Korea. A bully “had it in his power to rescue people, to be a hero. Instead he was using the terror of the regime to benefit himself and add to the misery of others.

It is reassuring to see bullies being ostracized on social media and elsewhere. It’s a progression beyond what has existed in our entertainment culture. When someone bullies an innocent person, people in their thousands are quick to denounce it. When Bella Poarch was first getting popular as a TikTok influencer, someone created a video bullying Bella, saying he wanted to punch her in the face. The TikTok community went to work and quickly put him in his place. Moral of the story. You have a choice. If you are thinking of bullying someone, you better think twice.

Roger Klotz & Nelson Muntz.PNG
Stephanie Lo
June 9, 2022 7:42 am

Thankfully in Canada, any bullying, hazing or abuse related to “initiation” is not allowed on campuses and most clubs and organizations welcome students from all years (though it would be naive to assume it doesn’t exist). However, there are some other distressing issues for students, such as unfair incidental fees and sexual assault/harassment cases. The incidental fees unrelated to tuition, which includes athletic fees, club fees and other societal fees, are extremely high and although some can be opted out, other payments are compulsory. Nonetheless, not everyone is able to benefit from these fees and it seems unreasonable to force all students to pay for services that they will not be using. There needs to be a more equitable and fair system for the non-tuition fees that students have to pay. As well, sexual assault and harassment is becoming more common, which is very troubling and needs to be urgently addressed. The most worrisome aspect is that attacks have occurred even indoors at night, which forces female students to adhere to strict curfews in order to be safe in the evenings.

Last edited 3 months ago by Stephanie Lo
Taabia Ahmed
June 10, 2022 4:35 am

Ragging! On the first day, after the usual orientation sessions, newcomers look so confused and perplexed that anyone can spot them as new additions to an institute. While ragging is strongly discouraged and committees are formed to report such incidents, it’s still a little fun if intentions aren’t to harm or humiliate a person. I remember very clearly that I was with a girl group all day in order to “protect” myself from ragging, lol. It basically included seniors asking us to sing nursery rhymes, pay for French Fries treats, dance on stupid songs etc. Nothing physically violent or emotionally abusive. I am aware that my experience was mild and sometimes it is a lot worse.

Last edited 3 months ago by Taabia Ahmed
Jason Ng
June 14, 2022 6:06 am

Short insight here. It seems like hazing has some cultural elements to it. Perhaps in some societies it’s an acceptable part of the culture, where it’s seen as something everyone has to go through – paying your dues. UNESCO has published data that said only 7% of adolescents in Tajikistan were bullied, in comparison to Samoa, where a massive 74% were bullied. Interestingly I know someone from the UK who went to university in Hawaii. He said his junior year was tough because he was bullied and there was this culture of having to prove yourself. The bullying eventually stopped when he was being hazed and he reacted by punching the hazer in the face.

June 10, 2022 1:54 pm

Generally in our universities, freshmen are warmly welcomed without any initiation practices. Although hazing isn’t widespread, freshmen face other disadvantages. They have a low likelihood of getting into university sports’ first teams or getting any political position in the school. Those chances are given to continuing students because we assume they are committed to the university and won’t drop out. In the past, Kenyan high schools (mostly boys schools) were notorious for bullying the incoming Form Ones (freshers/mono). As a Form One, you were to pass several bullying sessions not limited to being beaten, washing senior students’ clothes, buying snacks for a senior student and answering to funny and offensive questions. As of now, the government has imposed hefty charges to high school students who are caught bullying others.