Category Archives: hazing

Hazing Was

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By Drew Logsdon (Western Kentucky)

This past year, several parents had to do an incredibly hard and unnecessary task. They did so with understandable pain, frustration, anger, and sadness. Life, the most beautiful gift bestowed upon us as a species, was taken from their children. Condolences were offered, prayers, and thoughts were sent, promises were made for action, results, solutions, and progress. Their children can’t be given back; the depthless void in their hearts cannot be filled.

So what can we do–we the concerned citizens who want to work against and eliminate hazing in the many areas of our society where it festers? The critics have a solution: abolish the groups they perceive as facilitating this toxic culture. Their solution is not to treat the patient but to eliminate the patient. While not the path of least resistance, it’s a course of action that wouldn’t be costly in terms of dollars for programming, staff, etc. Well-meaning critics say these organizational cultures are too far gone, too archaic, and too corrupted to be redeemed. In their view, there is no absolution available to the conditions where hazing occurs and even the thought of trying to fix the problems (problems that no one disagrees exist) is assumed to be an effort of foolishness to repair.

But I would respond that the argument holds no water.

Go to Wikipedia and in the search bar type in “Smallpox.”

Now read the first two words of that article.

Smallpox was.”

That’s right. A disease that took 300-500 million lives in the 20th century alone no longer exists. It was eradicated and the last known natural diagnosis of the disease was in 1977. The disease spanned continents and like most great, global tragedies it was ignorant of every demographic identifier. But the effort to eradicate smallpox was not brewed up in a single lab or funded by a single entity. It was a collaborative effort that, much like the disease, spanned continents and was ignorant of demographic identifiers. In fact the worldwide effort saw partnership between the two major Cold War powers.

Human civilization has solved complex social problems in the past, and it can do so again.

So is fixing the societal problem of hazing that insurmountable? The answer is no, it is not. It certainly is not an easy task but it is not impossible. The failure lies in an almost endemic lack of hope that the institutions that have stood for hundreds of years, and have adapted through several very large and serious social changes in our nation’s history, can continue to exist.

But where does one even begin? Much like the effort to eradicate smallpox, it begins with collaboration.

Unfortunately, there have been several communities – including higher education in some cases — that have taken unfair and unproductive steps by shutting out their own members during important discussions.

With regards specifically to our own community, we have witnessed fraternities and their host institution rise to the challenge when given the opportunity to collaborate together. A great example of this is Vanderbilt IFC’s recent Inclusivity Agreement and the formation of an in-house Greek Allies program.

No one is arguing that issues exist. The question being asked is whether these issues can be solved and who should be involved in doing so.

The Wikipedia article on hazing includes an unfortunate opening.

Hazing is.”

I’m ready to make the proposed edit: “Hazing was.”

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2013 40 Answers Campaign Begins Today

In partnership with Sigma Nu Fraternity, HazingPrevention.Org is pleased to announce the 2013 #40Answers Campaign.  For each of the 40 days leading up to National Hazing Prevention Week (September 23 – 27, 2013), one commonly heard excuse for hazing will be posted via the Twitter accounts for HazingPrevention.Org (@PreventHazing) and Sigma Nu Fraternity (@SigmaNuHQ).

Participating in the campaign is easy!  First, follow @PreventHazing and @SigmaNuHQ to see the hazing excuse for each day.  Second, post your answer to that excuse using your personal or organization’s Twitter account. Note all Twitter posts should include the #40Answers hashtag so the conversation can be easily followed.  Lastly, follow the conversation by searching Twitter for posts tagged with “#40Answers”.

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The list bellow outlines the 40 commonly heard excuses for hazing that will be used for this year’s #40Answers Campaign.  The first excuse will be posted via the HazingPrevention.Org (@PreventHazing) and Sigma Nu Fraternity (@SigmaNuHQ) Twitter accounts on August 14, 2013.

All are encouraged to participate.  Just be sure to include the #40Answers hashtag in your response posts so others can easily follow the conversation.

  1. New members have to earn their way into this group/team/organization.
  2. I don’t think _________ is hazing.
  3. This is just part of becoming a member of a team/organization/fraternity/sorority.
  4. Other groups/teams/organizations/chapters won’t respect us if we don’t haze.
  5. Professional sports teams do the same thing. It’s on ESPN and they never get in trouble. Why do we?
  6. It’s all in fun. We aren’t trying to hurt anyone.
  7. Hazing builds better members by breaking them down so we can build them up and make them stronger.
  8. They chose to participate.
  9. We’ve always done it that way.
  10. Hazing unites the new teammates/new member class.
  11. We won’t get caught.
  12. Hazing teaches freshmen/rookies to respect the upperclassmen.
  13. The university only prohibits hazing because they have to for liability reasons.
  14. Hazing made me a better person.
  15. They have it easy compared to what I went through.
  16. We can’t just allow anyone into our group/team/organization.
  17. That other organization/team asked us to haze their members, but we wouldn’t do that to our own members/teammates.
  18. My organization/team does lots of great things. Why are you focusing on this little thing?
  19. If we stop hazing then we’ll lose alumni support or respect from other teams.
  20. No one is going to die from _______.
  21. You hazed in your organization/team, why should I listen to you now when you say it’s wrong?
  22. I’m not the captain/president/new member educator; I can’t change what we are doing.
  23. Everyone else on campus does it.
  24. It’s tradition.
  25. Hazing helps us weed out those who really don’t want to be here.
  26. There was a stated educational purpose to what we were doing, so it’s not hazing.
  27. We can’t do anything fun anymore. Everything is hazing.
  28. They wanted to be hazed.
  29. Our new members/rookies are going to drink anyway. We’re not having them do anything they wouldn’t do on their own.
  30. The members of __________haze worse than we do!
  31. New members must learn to appreciate the team/organization.
  32. Even if we do get in trouble, the school can’t get rid of our team/organization/chapter; the alumni will stop their donations.
  33. I had to go through it so the new members/rookies need to do it too.
  34. We don’t agree with it; we’re just waiting for the seniors to graduate.
  35. We only haze a little bit.
  36. It’s just boys being boys. They are just stupid pranks.
  37. We give our rookies/new members the option to not participate.
  38. If I ask campus professionals or advisors for help, our organization will be shut down or our team will lose its season.
  39. The military hazes.  Why can’t we?
  40. It used to be much worse.

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.

“We can’t just let anyone into the chapter.”

Just a few of our favorite responses to today’s #40Answers hazing excuse:

@KeithEllis02: “A bid is an invitation to join, not an invitation to be hazed. Make better decisions on the front end not 6 weeks into pledging.”

@bgibson27: “We can’t let just anybody in.” Doing pushups, tolerating yelling, memorizing your interests. Quality new members there…

@David_Stollman: “If u REALLY believe in hazing, promote that u do it & stop lying! Then see who joins. I dare u. At least ur not hypocrites then.”

@KPezzella: “A well-articulated recruitment plan and training for your chapter will ensure that you get quality new members without hazing.”

@TJatCAMPUSPEAK: “Challenge hasn’t been to keep the unworthy out. It’s getting the worthy in & they have better things to do than tolerate hazing.”

@SigmaNuDrew: “Riiiight. Who needs grades and character when we can have a chapter full of people with good memory and no self-worth.”

Read all of the outstanding responses to today’s excuse here.

Will rookie hazing help the Titans win more than six games?

The Tennessee Titans finished the 2010 season tied for last place in their division. With such a disappointing record, you’d think the team would be spending precious training camp hours on activities that actually contribute to winning football games (e.g. reviewing blocking assignments, watching film, timing routes, etc.).

But the “team,” if you can call it one, seems more interested in taping rookies to the goal post and dumping ice-cold water all over them.

Will the Titan’s rookie hazing help them suck less than they did last year? Not likely. As the Dallas Cowboys learned last year, rookie hazing failed to deliver on its promises. (It’s no surprise that the Cowboys took a decisively different stance on rookie hazing this year.)

Meanwhile, Peyton Manning, though currently recovering from recent neck surgery, is focused on getting rookies involved in the team as soon as possible:

“You’ve seen all the highlights with the rookie hazing and haircuts,” Manning said, per John Oehser of FanHouse. “We don’t do that around here, because we don’t treat the guys like rookies. We expect those guys to play this year and to play well.”

“Hazing builds better members by instilling toughness.”

A few of our favorite responses from today’s #40Answers excuse, “Hazing builds better members by instilling toughness.”

@fraternalthoughts: Teaching someone to be submissive and take orders instills toughness? Let’s create leaders, not subordinates.

@TJatCAMPUSPEAK: Know what’s tough? Being a good husband, father, student, citizen, professional. Prepare them for that. Hazing doesn’t do it.

@bgibson27: Hazing instills toughness? Stop acting like you’re a military Drill Instructor–it is disrespectful to those who serve.

@GullsGoGreek: Be tough and accountable on what is important: values, grades, campus involvement. Hazing is for the weak!

Are you a fan or a fanatic?

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. -Aristotle

We all have strong convictions about something. It could be a political belief (“taxes hurt small businesses”), or a historical narrative (“FDR ended the Great Depression”) or even the eminence of a favorite sports team (“Chicago Cubs are the best baseball team ever”).

Maybe it’s something as simple as a favorite TV show (“Hands down, Entourage is the best show to ever grace the airwaves”). Whatever it may be, everyone is passionate about something.

In everyday usage, “fan” describes someone passionate about a sports team, a TV show, a musician, and so on. “I’m a lifelong Redskins fan,” one might say in casual conversation, or “I’m a huge fan of Tom Petty.

But the root word of fan carries a much different, and more harmful, meaning. Merriam-Webster defines fanatic as “marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion.” (Synonyms include “extremist” and “radical.”)

For a fan of the Detroit Lions a win brings him a sense of joy, but he can acknowledge, after observing the team’s record over the past ten years, that the franchise is not the best in the League.

For a fanatic, on the other hand, evidence doesn’t matter. The Detroit Lions are the best team in the League, period, and no amount of reason or logic will change his mind. It sounds silly in a sports analogy, but from time to time we’re all prone to such blindness in our decision making in other areas of our lives.

So what happens when we’re confronted with new evidence that conflicts with an existing worldview? How will you react? Will you take a big gulp, swallow your pride and change your mind? Or will you frantically search for stories that confirm your narrative and ignore anything that refutes it?

Thankfully for us Sigma Nus, the anecdote to fanaticism is right in front of us. Our founding principle of Truth expects us to make decisions based on sound information, even if it might not support our existing belief.

In short, Truth calls on us to keep an open mind–to consider the possibility that we made a mistake in our thinking. It requires us to walk away from a false paradigm no matter how psychologically painful it might be.

Which brings us to the #40 Answers in 40 Days Campaign. Beginning tomorrow, and continuing through National Hazing Prevention Week, hazers will be confronted with a steady assault of evidence and logic that questions a deeply rooted worldview—a worldview that regards the arbitrary mistreatment of new members as a legitimate way to build lifelong friendships and commitment to the fraternity.

For hazing’s True Believers we ask one thing: Consider the possibility that you might be wrong.