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0753 Enduring Hazing

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 753: Enduring Hazing.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 753. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

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This episode is a conversation between Rafael and Hannah about something called “hazing,” which is what happens you join an organization and are made to do certain things that may be humiliating or possibly even dangerous. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Rafael: Go away and stop following us. Our club is for boys only.

Hannah: But I want to join.

Rafael: You do, huh? Did you know that to join our club, you have to go through an initiation?

Hannah: Okay, I’ll do that. What do I have to do?

Rafael: You have to endure weeks of hazing. We’ll be putting you through your paces to make sure you’re club material.

Hannah: I’m willing to do that. I can do anything you boys can do. Watch me!

Rafael: I’m not so sure. If you want to be one of the guys, you’ll have to do everything we tell you to do, even if you don’t want to.

Hannah: Everything?

Rafael: Yeah, everything. If we tell you to eat dirt, you have to eat dirt. If we tell you to stand outside in the rain, you have to do that, too. Get the picture?

Hannah: Yeah, I’ve got the picture.

Rafael: If we tell you to pull a prank, you have to do it. If we tell you to streak, you have to do that, too.

Hannah: You can’t be serious. That really crosses the line.

Rafael: We decide what crosses the line and what doesn’t. See? I knew you’d be too chicken to join our club.

Hannah: You’re right. I don’t want to join any club where the members are stupid enough to do all of those things. I’m starting my own club – one where you don’t have to humiliate yourself to get in.

Rafael: Suit yourself. I knew you weren’t club material.

Hannah: Thank goodness for that!

[end of dialogue]

Rafael begins our dialogue by saying to Hannah, “Go away and stop following us (stop walking behind us or going where we’re going). Our club is for boys only.” So, Rafael and Hannah are children. A “club” is an organization, an association, a group of people interested in some topic. We call the people in the group “members” of that club. Sometimes the clubs are formal, but sometimes we use the word informally. We may have a “book club,” a group people who all read the same book and then come together and talk about it. This is a club of the kind that young boys might have, and Rafael says that it’s for boys only.

Hannah says, “I want to join.” I want to become a member. Rafael says, “You do, huh (meaning oh, really)? Did you know that to join our club, you have to go through an initiation?” An “initiation” (initiation) is some sort of series of actions, a “ceremony” or “ritual” we might call it, to bring new members into a group. It could just be the head of the group saying, “Welcome, you are now members,” it could involve something else. The new members may have to do something as part of their initiation. “To initiate” also means, as a verb, to begin, so you can see the connection with the noun “initiation,” it’s something that happens at the beginning of your membership in the club.

Hannah says, “Okay, I’ll do that. What do I have to do?” Rafael says, “You have to endure weeks of hazing.” “To endure” (endure) means to experience something difficult, unpleasant, something that might be uncomfortable, even painful for a long period of time. “He endured a lot of pain after he broke his leg.” He had to suffer through a lot of pain, to tolerate a lot of pain. Well, Rafael says that Hannah would have to endure weeks of hazing. “Hazing” (hazing) is the process where some clubs or organizations make new members do silly, sometimes stupid, or even dangerous things in order to become a member of the club. This is most common at colleges and universities that have all-male or all-female organizations, what are called “fraternities” and “sororities,” at least the ones that participate in this kind of hazing. The colleges say they can’t do it; many students have actually died during these silly, rather stupid initiation rituals or initiation actions, but it continues to happen. It seems like every year we read about some hazing incident or situation at a college or university.

Rafael says, “We’ll be putting you through your paces to make sure you’re club material.” “To put (someone) through their paces” (paces) means to test someone thoroughly and completely to make sure that this person can do everything you want them to do. Well, Rafael is going to try to put Hannah through her paces, to make her do all sorts things. “To make sure,” he says, “that you are club material.” “Material” here means good enough to meet the requirements of some job or position. Sometimes women might say, “He’s not really very good boyfriend material” or “husband material,” meaning he wouldn’t make a good boyfriend or a good husband. That’s the idea of “material” here. “Material” can also be the substance, what something is made out of, especially clothing. But here it means whether this person is good enough for this position.

Hannah says, “I’m willing to do that. I can do anything you boys can do. Watch me!” “Watch me” is a phrase we use to tell someone to observe what I do because I’m going to do something unexpected or something you don’t think I can do. For example, there are two men in a park and they see a beautiful woman, and one man says to the other, “You are too chicken to go over and talk to that beautiful woman.” To say you’re “chicken” means you’re afraid, you’re scared, you’ll never go and it do. And the other man says, “Oh, you think I’m too scared? I’m going to go get her telephone number so I can call her and ask her out on a date. Watch me!” meaning I’m going to do something you don’t think I can do.

Rafael says, “I’m not so sure (I’m not so sure you, Hannah, can do anything we boys can do). If you want to be one of the guys, you’ll have to do everything we tell you to do, even if you don’t want to.” “To be one of the guys” is an expression meaning to be one of the group, especially a group of boys or young men. It’s usually used to describe a girl or a woman who is friends with a group of men, but not friendly in a romantic way, just friendly just like she were another man. She may play sports with them or go drinking with them or whatever; that would be “one of the guys.” That’s what Hannah wants to be.

Hannah says, “Everything?” I have to do everything you tell me to do? Rafael says, “Yeah (meaning yes), everything. If we tell you to eat dirt (eat the black part of the earth, in essence), you have to eat dirt. If we tell you to stand outside in the rain, you have to do that, too. Get the picture?” The expression “get the picture,” as a question, is to understand completely what someone is talking about or what someone is asking. You might also say, “Oh, I get the picture,” meaning yes, I understand everything you are talking about. Sometimes we use that expression when you don’t actually give the other person all of the specific details – the specific information, but they are able to understand what you are really trying to say.

Hannah says, “Yeah, I’ve got the picture.” “Got” is the past tense, of course, of “get.” Rafael says, “If we tell you to pull a prank, you have to do it.” “To pull a prank” (prank) means to do something that tricks another person into doing something that makes them look silly or foolish. It’s like a joke; we might call it a “practical joke,” a joke that involves some physical action. He says, “If we tell you to streak, you have to do that, too.” “To streak” (streak) means to take off all of your clothes and run quickly in public, in a park or in a store, past everyone else without any clothes on – “naked,” we would say. This was a strange thing that became popular in the 1970s, when I was growing up. I’m not sure, it might have been something people were smoking! “Streak” has a number of different meanings however, not related to being naked. You can find those in our Learning Guide.

Hannah says to Rafael, “You can’t be serious. That really crosses the line.” “To cross the line” means to go too far, to do something that is too extreme, that is unacceptable. Rafael says, “We decide what crosses the line and what doesn’t. I knew you’d be too chicken (too scared) to join the club.” Hannah says, “You’re right. I don’t want to join any club where the members are stupid enough (are dumb enough) to do all of those things,” all of those things involved in the initiation – the hazing. “I’m starting my own club,” she says, “one where you don’t have to humiliate yourself to get in.” “To humiliate yourself” means to embarrass yourself. “To humiliate” (humiliate) is to do something silly or stupid that makes other people laugh at you or think something bad about you. “To get yourself in” or “to get in” means to be accepted by a group or an organization. Hannah says she is going to have a club where you don’t have to humiliate yourself to get into the club.

Rafael says, “Suit yourself.” “To suit (suit) yourself” means to do whatever makes you happy. The expression is usually used when someone doesn’t agree with the actions of another person. The other person may refuse to do what the first person wants them to do or they may simply decide to do something different, you say, “Well, suit yourself.” It’s criticism; it’s saying you’re not doing what I want you to do but I don’t care, go ahead, do it. Rafael says, “I knew you weren’t club material.” Hannah says, “Thank goodness for that!” “Thank goodness” is a phrase we use to show gratitude or relief, to say, “Oh, that’s a good thing. Thank goodness.”

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Rafael: Go away and stop following us. Our club is for boys only.

Hannah: But I want to join.

Rafael: You do, huh? Did you know that to join our club, you have to go through an initiation?

Hannah: Okay, I’ll do that. What do I have to do?

Rafael: You have to endure weeks of hazing. We’ll be putting you through your paces to make sure you’re club material.

Hannah: I’m willing to do that. I can do anything you boys can do. Watch me!

Rafael: I’m not so sure. If you want to be one of the guys, you’ll have to do everything we tell you to do, even if you don’t want to.

Hannah: Everything?

Rafael: Yeah, everything. If we tell you to eat dirt, you have to eat dirt. If we tell you to stand outside in the rain, you have to do that, too. Get the picture?

Hannah: Yeah, I’ve got the picture.

Rafael: If we tell you to pull a prank, you have to do it. If we tell you to streak, you have to do that, too.

Hannah: You can’t be serious. That really crosses the line.

Rafael: We decide what crosses the line and what doesn’t. See? I knew you’d be too chicken to join our club.

Hannah: You’re right. I don’t want to join any club where the members are stupid enough to do all of those things. I’m starting my own club – one where you don’t have to humiliate yourself to get in.

Rafael: Suit yourself. I knew you weren’t club material.

Hannah: Thank goodness for that!

[end of dialogue]

Thank goodness we have the best podcast scriptwriter in the world working here at the Center, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan, copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
club – association; organization; a group that only members can be part of

* To become part of the chess club, just fill out this form and attend a meeting.

to join – to become part of a group or organization

* Suzie joined Toastmasters because she wanted to become a better public speaker.

initiation – a ceremony or ritual used to bring new members into a group

* As part of their initiation, new sorority members have to clean rooms, shine shoes, and carry textbooks for older sorority members.

to endure – to tolerate; to continue to do or experience something that is unpleasant, uncomfortable, or difficult

* Santiago had to endure weeks of chemotherapy, but it worked and the cancer is gone.

hazing – the process of making people do silly, stupid, foolish, or dangerous things in order to become members of an organization

* Hazing at the fraternities typically involves doing embarrassing things in public, like wearing women’s clothing or walking around in underwear.

to put (one) through (one’s) paces – to test someone thoroughly; to make someone show what he or she is capable of doing

* When recent graduates begin working at the law firm, the partners really put them through their paces, often making them work more than 70 hours each week.

material – good enough to meet the requirements for some position or job

* Yes, he’s rich and handsome, but is he really boyfriend material?

watch me – a phrase used to tell someone to observe one’s actions, because one is going to do something unusual or unexpected, especially something that the other person doesn’t think one can do

* Watch me! I’m going to ride my bicycle down those steps.

one of the guys – someone who is part of a group of (young) men and has been accepted by them, often referring to a girl who acts like a boy and is comfortable spending time with them as friends, not in a romantic way

* Those four boys have always been very close friends, but you have a lot of common with them, so I bet you’ll be one of the guys within a few weeks.

to get the picture – to fully understand what someone is describing or warning about

* Joining the Marines is hard work. You have to be able to run, swim, and lift weights for hours, even when people are yelling at you. Get the picture?

to pull a prank – to do something that tricks another person and makes that person seem silly or foolish

* The students pulled a prank on their teacher by turning all the desks backwards before she arrived in the morning.

to streak – to run quickly while naked in a public area where other people will see and be shocked or surprised

* Two teenagers streaked through the mall, but they didn’t realize they would be recorded on the security cameras!

to cross the line – to go too far; to do something that is too extreme and therefore unacceptable to someone or to society

* Lying about your work experience on a resume really crosses the line.

chicken – scared; afraid; frightened; not courageous or brave

* Sam is too chicken to walk through the cemetery at night.

to humiliate (oneself) – to embarrass oneself; to do something that makes other people think one is silly or foolish

* Manuel has a terrible singing voice and refused to humiliate himself by singing with his friends.

to get in – to be accepted or admitted into an organization; to be allowed to participate in something

* Lisa wants to get into a good medical school, so she studies hard and volunteers at the hospital.

to suit (oneself) – to do whatever makes one happy or satisfied, used by someone who does not agree with the approach and/or disapproves of it

* That has to be the ugliest color I’ve ever seen, but if you want to paint your bedroom that color, suit yourself.

thank goodness – a phrase used to show gratitude and relief

* Did you read this article about the hurricane? Thank goodness we didn’t go there on vacation as we had planned!

Comprehension Questions
1. What will Hannah need to do if she wants to join the club?
a) She’ll have to fill out a lot of application forms.
b) She’ll have to learn to run as quickly as the boys.
c) She’ll have to do whatever the boys tell her to do.

2. What does Rafael mean when he says, “Get the picture?”
a) He wants to make sure Hannah understands him.
b) He wants to remind her to bring her camera.
c) He wants to show her photographs of his own hazing.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
club

The word “club,” in this podcast, means an association or organization made up of members: “The members of the high school environmental club are going to pick up trash on the beach this weekend.” Or, “Which book is your book club reading this week?” A “club” can also be a heavy stick used to hit people or animals: “Did prehistoric humans really walk around with clubs?” A “golf club” is a long, metal stick with a large part on the bottom, used to hit a golf ball: “Which golf club would be better for this hole: a 3-iron or a 4-iron?” Finally, when playing cards, a “club” is one of the four symbols shown on the cards, a black design with three round leaves and a stem: “Who had the king of clubs?”

to streak

In this podcast, the verb “to streak” means to run quickly while naked in a public area where other people will see and be shocked or surprised: “The police arrested a man for streaking in a park where children were playing.” The verb “to streak” can also mean to move so quickly that it is hard to see the details: “Amateur astronomers gathered to watch the comet streak across the sky.” When talking about hair, “to streak” means to add artificial color to one or more sections of a person’s hair, especially if the colors are shocking and not meant to appear natural: “Victoria decided to streak her hair in the colors of her college football team before going to watch the big game.”

Culture Note
Film Depictions of Hazing: A Few Good Men

A “highly acclaimed” (popular; admired; reviewed favorably) 1992 film called A Few Good Man “depicts” (shows) a fascinating, “dramatized” (exaggerated for a play or movie) instance of hazing in the U.S. Marines. Although hazing is not a “standard practice” (something that is common and performed regularly) in the military, it does sometimes happen, and this “fictional” (not based on facts; not a true story) film shows what can happen when hazing “goes wrong” (does not happen as planned and has very bad consequences).

In the film, a young Marine is unhappy and wants to leave the “base” (a place where the military operates) where he is “stationed” (assigned to work and live). His “superior officers” (people who have authority and are higher in an organizations) hear about his plan to share secret information in exchange for a “transfer” (permission to go to a different base). They are “determined” (committed) to improve his behavior before the next evaluation.

However, the young Marine dies. “Attorneys” (lawyers) are “called in” (asked to come) to the base to find out what happened. The attorneys “suspect” (think that something has happened, but do not have proof) that someone ordered a hazing, which they call “code red,” and that it resulted in the Marine’s death.

As the film follows the attorneys’ “investigation” (search for the truth) and the trial, it explores the importance of code reds in the military culture and how hazing can be used to change soldiers’ behavior and willingness to “follow orders” (do what one is told). It also “raises the question” (asks) of whether code reds are acceptable if they “further” (promote) national security.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - a