"Universities should punish the black fraternities that brand. It's an obvious visible sign of hazing."
Absolutely. This is definitely hazing and prohibited under the rules of most if not all national fraternities/sororities (if for no other reason than for the liability insurance plan they are covered under, FIPG I believe). It is also against most if not all state's laws which prohibit hazing.
There tends to be more of this stuff happening with local fraternities, ie., organizations that are not part of a national or international fraternal group. Because of this there is no oversight and they make up their own rules. It is difficult enough to provide some supervision to chapters of national fraternities (many local chapters tend to try to keep things from the oversight of "national"); a local fraternity with no affiliation has virtually no guidance from the experience and resources of a large national organization and easily runs afoul of what's allowed and what's not.
There has long been a movement in the fraternity system to eliminate hazing entirely. It's been a long road, traditions are hard to fight and groups of young men, 18 - 22, tend to get out of hand sometimes.
In the early 1980s we went through it in my own chapter. Much of our pledge program turned out to be considered hazing according to new rules issued by our national HQ. Most of our program was relatively benign, compared to the horror stories you hear...the worst was our 24 hour straight "help night" that we all went through at the end of pledging. It consisted of a combination of house duties (cleaning, etc), being quizzed randomly in line ups, various "games", lots of screaming and "yes sirs", etc. I guess we could claim we followed our national's rules against hazing because we didn't have a "hell week" but "help night" was pretty rough, especially when certain alumni (a former army DI comes to mind) showed up to participate. But with the then new rules we were clearly in violation and a couple of our alumni were ready to report us. I was elected pledge counselor at that time with the promise that I would get our program in compliance while recognizing the need to appreciate traditions. I eliminated the "no sleep" help night and a number of other things...and took a lot of heat from some alumni as a result (though most seemed to accept it and realize that we had to get with the times and a bunch of traditions started by a group of guys fresh from the military going to school on the GI bill wasn't really appropriate anymore.
Today the undergrads are amazed to hear (some) of what we went through in those days because the program now is nothing like that and emphasizes education, being a responsible brother, etc. Our chapter has the highest grades on campus, is much larger than it was when we were there, has won our national's highest honor, the president's cup, some 10 or 12 times in recent years and is way ahead on the mortgage for the new house the alumni helped them build. The hazing didn't do anything to build brotherhood, it didn't improve the appreciation of the actual formal initiation ceremony that followed (which is an amazing, complex and meaningful, private, ritual). I'm glad to have helped get rid of it. Oh at alumni reunions the "war stories" are fun to tell though we are careful not to give the kids there any bad ideas....but I don't think they are missing out on anything by not having to go through what I did.
I can't imagine, though, joining a group that branded, paddled, did public humiliation or other such activities...we had none of that and were still considered to be hazing.