Hazing is a chameleon activity: one minute it can be harmless, the next minute it can be hazardous, or worse. The centuries-old practice still draws strong rebukes and surprising defenses from those who think it’s more about tradition than foul play.

Our view: Hazing is no joke.

It is disappointing that news of an alleged incident has marred this holiday season at Jacksonville State University. Tight-lipped university officials acknowledged that a fraternity had been suspended and an investigation had started into an alleged off-campus hazing in November. Sam Monk, acting general counsel for JSU, told The Star that one victim was treated at Regional Medical Center, and another was taken to UAB Hospital.

In an odd bit of timing, recent hazing incidents at Florida A&M University and within the U.S. Army have returned this unseemly topic to national prominence.

Among the most serious findings: More than half — 55 percent — of U.S. students involved in clubs, teams or organizations have experienced hazing; 47 percent come to college having already experiencing hazing; and excessive drinking is involved in hazing more than any other method.

Let’s call hazing what it is: a tradition that should be stopped.

— The Anniston Star, Ala., Dec. 30