It’s that time of the year, Grand Valley State University. Sorority and fraternity life on campus just finished up their 2012 Panhellenic recruitment season, and Lakers from all walks of life are becoming part of communities that act as a catalyst for personal growth and life-long friendships.

Despite whatever stigmas are attached to the act of “going Greek” in college, the loyalty that comes along with that kind of sisterhood and brotherhood is admirable – especially in a college where Greek hazing in these communities seems virtually non-existent. But just because it seems virtually non-existent doesn’t mean that it is – there is still a very real and prevalent danger involved with college and university initiation rituals when they’re taken too far.

In a 2008 study conducted by researchers at the University of Maine and subsequently published in the 2010 National Agenda for Hazing Prevention in Education, results indicated that the vast majority of college student do not report hazing to campus officials and that college students recognize hazing as part of campus culture. The report said research reveals a “complex set of sometimes conflicting motives and emotions, which often work against the reporting of hazing incidents and support the perpetuation of this behavior.”

To us, that seems exactly on point. In college, there’s a need to belong, and an already established do-whatever-it-takes mindset that carries over from academia and manifests itself much more ominously in a social setting.

There’s a fine line between upholding tradition and perpetuating unlawful and inhumane standards – and that’s not just in the world of Greek life, but also in campus organizations across the board. The report also said that out of those surveyed, 55 percent of college students involved in clubs, teams and other extra-curricular organizations reported having been hazed.

Furthermore, nine out of 10 students who had, by definition, experienced hazing in college did not consider themselves to have been hazed at all.

This is not to say that hazing happens regularly on GVSU’s campus – so far, campus reports indicate that there is very little to no hazing at all within both Greek life and other student organizations; but this is to say that hazing can happen on GVSU’s campus, that we are not immune to an illness cultivated by years of ignorance and wrongful standards.

So as the few and the proud enter a whole new chapter of their lives this week, remember to love pledges like you love yourself.