A tale of two chapters – the opportunity cost of hazing

While your chapter was designing this year’s recruitment t-shirt (another beer logo, of course), my chapter was having lunch with prospective members and their parents.

While your chapter was creating demeaning nicknames for each pledge, my chapter was taking the time to learn each candidate’s name, hometown and life story.

While your chapter was debating what embarrassing costume each pledge should wear for this weekend’s party, my chapter was helping each candidate set personal goals for the semester.

While your chapter was out buying family drinks for Big Brother night, my chapter was arranging a mentoring program for each candidate to work with an alumnus in his field of study.

While your chapter was holding the weekly line-up in the basement to grill pledges on arbitrary questions they can’t answer, our brothers were at the library studying with the candidates (our candidates learn Fraternity history from the brothers).

While your pledges were out stealing road signs, defacing property, and breaking into campus buildings during the annual scavenger hunt, our candidates were listening to a guest speaker talk about time management skills and effective study habits at our weekly chapter meeting.

While your pledges were running errands and performing arbitrary tasks to complete their interview books, we were hosting a parents’ dinner to learn more about our candidates and their families.

While your brothers were harassing pledges in front of their dates at last weekend’s mixer, our chapter was hosting an etiquette dinner with the top sorority on campus.

While your chapter was trying to coordinate manufactured stories for the upcoming “nationals” visit, my chapter was updating our strategic plan to free up time for feedback and guidance during the leadership consultant’s visit.

While your chapter was searching for loopholes in the risk reduction policy for this weekend’s off-campus party, my chapter was hosting a speaker on alcohol education open to the entire campus. (We hosted a party that weekend too, except we followed our insurance guidelines.)

While your members were swapping stories of drunken female conquests from the previous night, my chapter was hosting a campus-wide program on preventing sexual assault.

While your chapter accepted mediocrity, we sought excellence.

While your chapter slowly fumbled everything away, we gradually earned our way to the top.

And while your chapter looked for someone to blame, we resolved to reach for the next level.

Rock Chapter recipients proudly display their awards during the 64th Grand Chapter in Boston.

15 thoughts on “A tale of two chapters – the opportunity cost of hazing

  1. Cog says:

    It’s so interesting because the “we” in this amazing piece was my chapter and the “you” was the local Sigma Nu chapter.

    I do applaud you on a very well written piece. This kind of mindset needs to spread like a wildfire through all Fraternities and chapters.

  2. I love this. Greek organizations should be about building up young men and women, not tearing them down.

  3. george says:

    Out of curiosity, who was serving the meal at your etiquette dinner, Who cleaned the house for all of your parent days?

    • T&C says:

      George. I’m going to have to ask for your letters back. You forfeited the right to wear them when you posted that comment using the dullest wit you could muster.
      -T&C

  4. Eta Phi #512 says:

    I like this…chapters truly fall apart when the mentality of the chapter is, “I already put in my work as a pledge” or “why do I have to do it? We have pledges.” Fraternity membership and responsibility is for life, not ten weeks.

  5. George, if the question is, “who does the menial tasks, if not pledges,” the answer is simple.

    Everyone takes their turn. Every brother in my undergraduate chapter took turns at clean up, yard maintenance, event setup, etc. If we had a dinner, the caterer or facility staff served it, or it was a buffet or pot-luck.

    The work was distributed so the load was never heavy. No one got the short end of the stick. No senioritis. Our culture was one of participation; no one said “it isn’t my job” or “that’s a job for pledges.”

    Towner Blackstock

  6. Nick says:

    This makes me sad. My chapter certainly doesn’t engage in the forms of hazing that brought us all to where we are, but we do know how to hold people accountable in innovative, fun, harmless ways that would almost certainly be called hazing by the soccer moms of that stole fraternity life from us. Fraternity comes from frater – brother, not egetes – leader. While your chapter is focusing on being bland, homogeneous leadership development clubs just to please the school and national fraternity, my chapter is growing as brothers who understand that leadership development isn’t done on paper or in lectures from other 18-23 year olds, but rather by going into the world and making ourselves leaders. And we have fun doing it…

  7. @george… the brothers did, probably. that’s what we do in Beta at UVA. Good post. I will share it!

    • DeltaRho#1045 says:

      It is incredibly hard to eliminate the mind set of hazing. Building each brother up is far more beneficial than hazing. And…if a soccer mom thinks it’s hazing, it probably is. Chapters that haze eventually have their Charters pulled (with several years passing to re-establish a new colony. I know first hand. I was on a house corp that had it’s Charter pulled because of pledges drinking at a sleepover, when it was clear the house had to go dry per National’s orders. Now, the uplifting of pledges makes the re-colonized chapter a much more positive situation. No disguised form of hazing could ever be held in high regard by the Legion of Honor!

  8. Kristin Gail says:

    I love this! Congratulations on helping to show people who aren’t in greek life that we are not all the same. A lot of organizations should really strive to better the world, their organizations, and themselves. Thank you guys for being so instrumental in an amazing change!

  9. GregM says:

    The caterer and the housekeeper.

  10. Jason says:

    I’ve been posting this on my campus and in my own chapters recruitment page

  11. ZK 701 says:

    Love this! Sorry to see that some here have “missed the boat,” but a great message.

  12. Matthew says:

    its like the military…they break you down…then build you up…this is a long tedious process that has been in existence for many years

  13. rexdstock1 says:

    I’m not sure why this is even a debate for any Sigma Nu. We were founded in opposition to hazing and always have said our mission was to be different and above the trappings of the weak and weak minded.

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