The following is a guest post from Director of Financial Operations Justin Wenger. Justin is a former Leadership Consultant and Director of Education for the General Fraternity staff.
This post is part of a series dedicated to providing answers to common excuses for hazing. The #40Answers in 40 Days campaign aims to promote National Hazing Prevention Week (September 20 – 25, 2010) and to ultimately create the definitive collection of crowdsourced knowledge to eliminate hazing.
It’s always interesting to hear the words Greek members choose when discussing issues such as hazing, and this excuse is no different. On the surface, no one can argue with this statement, but scratch the superficial veneer off this comment and its weak attempt at hiding its real intent is shattered. If we take a moment to probe slightly deeper, though, it’s not too hard to begin seeing the illogic of this excuse.
“Pledges must pay their dues to become a member.” First, “pledge” is a verb, not a noun; it’s an action, not a person. Incorrect usages aside, take a moment to consider the underlying meaning of the statement. Yes, new or prospective members must fulfill their financial obligations to the organization, just like current, or active, members, but clearly that’s not the intent of this excuse – only someone who is trying to argue the semantics of the statement would say there isn’t a hidden meaning. Let’s challenge that hidden meaning.
What does a Candidate/new member owe you? What do they owe the chapter? Can’t think of anything besides the obvious – They need to learn the history; they should respect the actives (an item to be covered at a later date), etc.? Well, take a step back and consider the fact that it was the chapter that chose to bring the Candidate into the membership. Sure, the Candidate accepted a bid, and, yes, it is reasonable to expect that he grow to understand the ideals of the organization and how to incorporate those ideals into his daily life. Whose job is it, though, to teach him those things? From one man’s perspective, it’s not the Candidate’s job to learn these things – he doesn’t owe us this – it is our job to teach him.
Go back and read the Ritual. The only thing a Candidate owes us (Sigma Nu) is his acceptance of, and best effort to live by, our ideals. We’ve already identified him as a man of honor, so it is up to us to guide, mentor, and counsel him to further incorporate our ideals into his life. We owe him that. The only thing due to us is his continued commitment to being a man of Love, Honor, and Truth.