There are exceptions. "I have seen color photographs of bloodied, bruised, blistered behinds of young (white) men on a Texas campus who have been subjected to that physical brutality for decades," Stevens says. And a University of Illinois student, while pledging a predominantly Jewish fraternity last year, was thrown to the floor, punched and slammed against a wall. He suffered a concussion.
But observers of white and black fraternities, including black Greeks themselves, say that slapping pledges around is much more common among blacks. And nobody knows why.
"I've come to think it has to do, No. 1, with a macho attitude," says Charles Wright, an administrator at Baltimore's Coppin State College and a past national president of Phi Beta Sigma. "It's almost mystical, the kind of energy that goes into fraternity life during the pledge period."
For years, Wright has spoken out against hazing, and he welcomes the demise of pledging. But until recently, he says, the black Greek leadership has avoided the issue. (The national organizations have long prohibited hazing, and have suspended or fined chapters that got caught at it, and even expelled members. But black fraternity leaders concede there has been a need for "better monitoring" of undergraduate pledging.)