Latest Stories

Hazing in law schools: A social epidemic


A stormy sky must have been the last thing Marc Andrei Marcos saw, as his so-called brothers beat him into unconsciousness on a farm somewhere in Dasmariñas, Cavite.

The sound of the paddle, inscribed with the letters of the Greek alphabet, hitting the ground must have been the last thing he heard, as his so-called brothers rushed to his aid as they realized death had come among them.

Marc became the latest fatality in a case of fraternity hazing.  He was a freshman in the law school of San Beda College.

He isn’t much different from you.

He was a 21-year-old boy with a full life ahead of him, full of promise and dreams.

Numerous organizations have condemned the incident, each calling for justice for Marc, and others who had met a similar tragic fate. The Association of Law Students of the Philippines described it as “inhumane,” “morally repugnant” and a “farce.”

Lip service

I wonder if this clamor would lead to concrete action, and not just end up as lip service. Marc was not the first casualty of hazing, and won’t be the last. Everyone, if the statements flooding social media are to be believed, is against hazing. There is a law against it. And yet, why does it persist?

Hazing is a “social epidemic,” an “excessively prevalent” practice in law schools.

I once talked to a frat man who called a fraternity “baduy”—because it renounces hazing in its initiation.

To this frat man, what differentiates fraternities from other collegiate organizations is hazing itself. This is, unfortunately, not a minority view, but rather one shared by many students in law schools, even those who are not members of fraternities or sororities.

As a social epidemic, the persistence of fraternities, and by extension of  hazing,  can be explained through the “three rules of epidemics” as expounded by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “The Tipping Point.”

First, fraternities employ the law of the few. In law school, it is common for glass-covered bulletins of fraternities and sororities to adorn the hallways.  These bulletins boast the rolls of alumni who hurdled the bar.

Members of fraternities make conscious effort to be connectors and mavens, people with connections and “new information” in the law school.

They conveniently name-drop the list of successful alumni. They promise you access to materials that will help you in your life in law school, reviewing for the bar, and even beyond.

They prey on your need for a “sense of belongingness” and inversely, use these in-out group dynamics to declare their nonmembers as “social outcasts,” or crudely, as “barbarians.”

Second, fraternities have a “stickiness” factor. It’s “cool” to be a frat man. The message of fraternities and sororities is clear, and beguiling: we are the conduit to success.

Their overall message seems to be that, for a student to succeed, he/she must belong to a fraternity.

Inadvertently, they cite that all Supreme Court justices or high-ranking government officials belong to a fraternity or sorority—meaning there’s a causal link between their success and their fraternity membership.

Third, you have to consider fraternities and hazing in the context of the environment where they persist. Gladwell writes in his book, “Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur.”

Why in law school? It is the nexus where the victim and the predator meet, so there must be an environmental factor at play.

Tough competition

Studying in a law school is difficult. Almost everyone in law school is smart, brilliant and articulate. The competition is tough.

Most of the people I have met who are from the school talked of this “pyramid” structure at San Beda. It’s a structure present in any other law school, in more or less the same form.

Sanctioned or not by the school administration, some professors consciously pass only a percentage of students. They take the cue from the Supreme Court, which annually passes only a certain percentage of “baristas.” But  the Supreme Court has not issued any directive on passing percentage for law students in any law subject.

All these factors create an environment that allows for the germ of hazing to take root. The stakes are high (whether you become a lawyer or not).

On one hand, we have fraternities or sororities who leverage experience, knowledge, information and a support system, and appropriate these for their own members.

On the other, we have individuals, especially freshmen, who lack these and who need them to attain a dream.

Fraternities and freshmen with high aspirations blend in a culture that puts a premium on success—at whatever cost. The combination could be fatal.

With so much to gain in the long term, a fraternity membership is a tempting offer, one that could surmount the natural objection of man to bodily harm—“the blisters eventually heal but the gains will last a lifetime,” so the belief goes.

Sororities and fraternities could just explain deaths such as Marc’s as isolated incidents—thus no compelling reason to stop the practice.

“He did not follow instructions,” or safety nets—some of them might say, as if such a mistake led to a “deserved” death. Then fraternity members could cite their own selves as living proofs that indeed one could survive hazing.

The legal community needs to take a long, hard look at this issue, and finally put a stop to hazing in fraternities by reexamining the factors that lead to deaths by hazing. Until then, it’s only a matter of time before, on another stormy night, a new body is found beside a blood-soaked paddle.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Crime , Education , Fraternities , Hazing , Lifestyle , Marc Andrei Marcos , Violence

  • http://twitter.com/ramillav ramillav

    This is a good read. I hope that the Anti-Hazing Law will be reviewed by Congress, and really look hard at why hazing is so persistent. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/KML22OYTLBN6NK4G6VOUPHLZCI Roslee

    I’m an Atenean, college of law, hazing it’s nonsense.

  • alfred sanchez

    relax lang kase pagpalo mga berdugo

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BAILOH47IAC7D2XUDC7AQSSIU4 Wee

    There is no point in banning something that you cannot prevent from happening. Make people accountable. Kaya nga there are leaders in every group. There is such a thing as responsibility and authority for leaders. Many so-called leaders only want the authority, not so much the responsibility. Will we grow if that were the case?

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  3. Palawan favorite getaway of show biz celebrities
  4. Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  5. Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  6. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  7. A tale of two Priscillas: my mother Prissy and Chona Recto Kasten
  8. This is not just a farm
  9. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  10. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  1. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  4. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  7. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  8. Prince William fuels speculation of second royal baby
  9. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  10. This is not just a farm
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter
  • 4 French journalists freed from Syria captors home
  • Thousands celebrate Easter in Holy Land
  • Transcript reveals confusion over ferry evacuation
  • Pimentel wants Balikatan-type drills for PNP
  • Sports

  • Red-hot Alaska rips injury-depleted San Mig Coffee
  • Pacquiao courtesy call to Aquino set for Monday
  • Nick Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk
  • Teague scores 28 as Hawks soar past Pacers in Game 1
  • Warriors beat Clippers in playoff opener
  • Lifestyle

  • Angono petroglyphs in danger of disappearing
  • Britain’s baby Prince George visits Australian zoo
  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW from Maguindanao died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit
  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders