The following is a guest post from Director of Risk Reduction Fred Dobry. Fred is a former Leadership Consultant for the General Fraternity staff.
New members should appreciate their fraternity. However, it is the means to that end that often causes problems. Is appreciation achieved through making new members “earn” their badge by enduring 12 weeks of hazing? Or is appreciation achieved by teaching new members your organization’s history, values, mission and opportunities membership in your organization offers?
I would argue the latter. I appreciate my fraternity because every time I put something into Sigma Nu, Sigma Nu gives me something more in return. And I can guarantee there are countless alumni volunteers and student affairs professionals that can say the same. I regret that I had to experience hazing while going through my chapter’s new member program. The hazing actually made me hate my fraternity, almost to the point of quitting. How many potentially great members of our organization do we lose each semester due to hazing? Rather than showing new members why they should appreciate our fraternity, we try to force them to appreciate it through hazing.
Think back to when you joined your organization. What were your goals? What were your characteristics? What was your leadership philosophy? Now flash forward to your college graduation. How did things change? What was different about you from when you first started out college? And lastly what role did your chapter experience have in those changes? As you ponder that last question, does it make you appreciate your fraternity experience more?
I argue that appreciation for your fraternity is learned through your positive development as a result of your membership. To put it in financial terms, you see a positive return on your investment of time and effort into your organization. What role can hazing possibly have in the positive development of an individual? It will do nothing less than make new members hate their experience. How often do you hear older members say “being a pledge was fun but it’s something I would never do again”? Doesn’t sound like appreciation to me…