It has been 11 years since Brent McClanahan II was subjected to brutal beatings with canes, whips and paddles during a weeks-long pledge process to become part of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity at Cal State Bakersfield. The hazing process left him with shattered disks in his back that more than a decade later continue to cause him pain.

“It has been an ongoing thing with my back because once you have one back surgery, it seems like an ongoing thing. And the more surgeries you have, the more you lose from the surgeries,” McClanahan says.

McClanahan’s experience with the physical abuse that was part of the pledge process is part of Byron Hurt’s documentary, “Hazing,” that opens the new season of the series “Independent Lens” on Valley Public Television. It is scheduled to debut at 10 p.m. Monday.

The documentary does a deep dive into the culture and consequences of pledging rituals at American educational institutions. “Hazing” offers perspectives on the growing and practice in an effort to bring awareness to actions that in some cases have resulted in a loss of life every year since 1959. Because of his ordeal, McClanahan has pushed for the practice to stop.

The film tackles topics of violence, sexual degradation, binge drinking, institutional coverups and debased notions of manhood. Interviews with violence-prevention experts and campus professional staff provide broader cultural context for these practices and their association with Greek-letter organizations.

McClanahan pledged the fraternity with expectations of some form of hazing. He was ready for any kind of running or physical challenges that he might have to face.

What he didn’t expect was the degree of physical abuse that he endured until he was hurt so bad he ended up in the hospital.

“We are talking about being beaten every night with paddles. Horse whips on the back and the chest. Slapping your chest and your back until you turn purple,” McClanahan says. “I would go home and have a chest that was red and purple and black.

“I had no idea that the hazing would get to that extent. I blamed myself for quite a long time.  I couldn’t come to grips with the fact that this is something that I wanted to be a part of since I was five years old, and getting to a place where actually, I didn’t realize until I was in the hospital bed that this is something that I really didn’t sign up for. ”

Hurt shows in the documentary that one of the dynamics that helps to fuel the continuation of the culture of hazing is silence. McClanahan is an example of why so many decide not to speak out against the practice.

McClanahan can now talk about how he was drawn to pledging the fraternity because his father was a Kappa. But, it took him years before he was able to comfortably talk about the hazing. Part of that was because of a backlash he got on campus and in the community because he came forward.

“I was not able to go to certain events and I’m the one that was hazed. I’m being treated by people in my own community like I’m the one that was actually a perpetrator,” McClanahan says.

McClanahan is just one of the interviews Hurt includes in the examination of hazing. He also speaks with victims’ families, survivors and fellow fraternity brothers as they reflect on the realities of hazing, and question the purpose of these ongoing rite of passage rituals.

Also included in the documentary are: Marc Lamont Hill, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.; James Vivenzio, hazing survivor and whistleblower; and Reverend Patricia Strong-Fargas, founder of Mother’s Against Hazing whose daughter Kristin High drowned during a midnight hazing ritual.

Despite all of the injuries and deaths connected to hazing, the practice does continue on a lot of campuses. McClanahan’s theory as to why hazing has not been stopped is that a lot of institutions just turn a blind eye to the practice.

McClanahan continues to deal with the mental and physical scars of the hazing. But, he considers himself a better person after coming out of the ordeal.

“Now I feel a lot more freer than I was back then.  I’ve come through my trauma and I’ve dealt with it and I’ve dealt with my mental health and I’m still seeking help with my doctors, through my physical health that I had sustained from the hazing.  And so I’m at a better place,” McClanahan says. “But I want it [hazing] to be done with.

“I am so tired of watching young women and men die every year because of this. At this point, in 2022, we are talking about it but it is not being addressed the way it should be.”